Otunba Kunle Folarin (Chairman, Port Consultative Council)
The Oil and Maritime Sectors will play a big game this year in the political economy of Nigeria. Energy income is a key component of the Expected Gross Revenue while International Trade will generate Internal Revenue from Customs Tariffs. The Ports will also play a very significant part depending on Shipping Traffic performance. However there is a great concern on the pattern of crude oil production, demand and supply.
Firstly, OPEC intends to cut production in order to stabilize the sales benchmark while non- OPEC producers intend to increase production.
Secondly, Qatar wants to withdraw from OPEC. Thirdly, Nigerian cargo sale is sluggish at the moment, therefore attaining the budget price and daily production forecast may be affected. Overall, it will be a volatile sale and production terrain which has to be closely monitored.
Sunny Nnebe (Chairman, International Freight Forwarders Association)
My expectations for the maritime sector in 2019, (first of all) is that government should review ease of doing business in the ports, ensure strict compliance on security agencies that are not needed inside the ports. Secondly, government should review the duty rates on vehicles to discourage fraud and to give second thought to vehicles that don't have duty but wants to pay duty.
They should create a platform where people can take advantage of and pay duties. Thirdly, government should create enabling environment for freight forwarders to have offices around the ports for proximity sake. Also, government needs to look at the activities of the shipping companies who don't have holding bay for empty containers. They bring 200 containers and will only take back 50 empty containers and this empties continue to cause congestion at the ports leading freight forwarders to losing all money made as deposits to shipping companies, government must intervene to stop the abuse and cheating being perpetuated by shipping companies and terminal operators. Those roads leading to and from ports must be fixed and made accessible. Finally, importers should be given orientation from time to time on right declaration of goods being imported while there should be room to accommodate corrections on NICIS 2, as it's seriously affecting the ease of clearing once there's an error.
Capt Deji Abegunde (Ship owner)
In 2019, I expect the federal government to have zero tolerance for piracy and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency should ensure full implementation of the Cabotage Law. Additionally, many cadets are hopelessly roaming the streets; they should be sorted out this year.
Emmanuel Nwagbara (Maritime Lawyer)
We are looking forward to a better maritime climate in 2019. We expect that with the road construction nearing t completion on Ijora/Wharf road, more businesses will take place in Apapa area. We expect that ship turnaround time will be reduced with the improved access roads to the ports. We expect that ships that come to berth would complete discharge operations in time and go back. As ships vacate, other ships will take their turns, so there will be less crowding at the anchorage. We also expect that if the truck park at Tin Can is put to use, it will also improve shipping business in the ports because the roads will be less occupied by trucks which have turned our port access roads into parking lots. So, if this truck park which is designed to take about 400 trucks is put to use, a lot of such vehicles will leave our roads and traffic will flow better around our port area, including the port access roads.
Stanley Ezenga (NAGAFF PRO)
Last year was very eventful in the maritime industry, the customs raked in more than 1Trillion Naira, they all surpassed their targets and I believe that this year too is going to be like that in as much as the ban on importation of rice through the land borders is enforced. Then, the age restriction of vehicles should be fully enforced; the ones below 15 years should not be allowed to come in. Then this FOU ‘A’ and Strike Force, we have agreed that this is parallel government agency when there is enforcement inside the ports, proper government agency examined those goods and released them. So, arresting them on the road is like passing a vote of no confidence on those at the ports. We are looking at a situation where releasing of consignments will be a one stop shop; once you are released you are good to go. And there is this new guideline about imports that has discrepancies in terms of description in the Bill of lading and the PAAR, the CGC has warned that such consignments should not be released. So we are looking at a situation where our importers will be compliant on lay down rules of governing on imports and exports. We are looking at situation where even at the comfort of my office I will do my business, without necessarily going to the ports for physical presence. So these are some of the things we believe can be done. If our importers obey the law guiding imports, the job of freight forwarders will be easier.
Engineer Matthew Alalade (President, Merchant Navy)
We want the government to acquire vessels for Nigerians, let NIMASA be serious about the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) let’s try and comply. They have annual inspection, so they should try and comply.
Capt Tajudeen Alao (Master Mariner)
This year, I expect that the federal government will ensure pursuant of a National Maritime Policy. Apart from this, they should ensure serious engagement with different stakeholders group, not the usual general gathering we always have.
Apart from these, I expect more support from government agencies in the maritime sector for activities of association's in the industry.
There should be also be creation of a friendly trading environment for players, access to funds, access to bunkers and access to facilities.
Paul Ndibe (Acting Executive Director, CILT)
It is too early to say because the budget is not yet out, however, I don’t expect much change because the bills that would have injected new business thinking in the sector have not been passed. Therefore the development we expect in the industry will not take place. And based on that, it is not likely that there will be much different from what we experienced in 2018. Both the National Transport Commission Bill, Ports & Harbor Bill, the Railway Bill, amongst others they have not yet been touched. Some of them have been referred back to the National Assembly. So without that, the unbundling of this sector have not taken place, the bills would have injected some new thinking into the sector but with the bill yet to be signed, I don’t think there will be much changes in the performance of 2018 and our expectations this year.