What is your assessment of the Maritime Sector under 18 years of Democracy?

Ugochukwu Nnadi (Deputy President, NAGAFF)There have not been any major intervention or any shift from what has been there right from the days of Obasanjo, we are just carrying out experiments, there are steps that should be taken to move the country forward but none of them is being touched. In terms of the freight forwarding sector, it is still the same old CEMA of 1958 that we are still practicing, even the CRFFN Act put in place by the democratic regime has not been practiced because the powers-that-be do not want it to work, it is the same people that have gone to the National Assembly to manipulate the Act, it is unfortunate that we have leaders that are never patriotic, they pay lip service to what is supposed to be done in the maritime sector. 

Joseph Atoloye (Chief Executive, Waltolye Ltd)  There have been changes in the port system because in the past when NPA was still in charge of the port, we usually spend two to three weeks before clearing our cargoes, but now, the situation has changed; now you can access your container even from the comfort of your office, you do not need to go into the port to locate your container, unlike what is obtained in the past where we would have to come to the port to track down our containers by ourselves. Today, after you make your payments and bookings, the terminal operators would position your container down for you. Also, the issue of documentation in the clearance process has reduced.

 

Alhaji Babatunde Mukhaila (ANLCA Chieftain)I think we have made tremendous progress procedurally in our port operations and in capital and human developments. The challenges we are facing in the port system today are identified and have been streamlined. So, it’s easy to deal with these challenges, provided all stakeholders agree to the resolutions without sabotage

 

Engr. Mathew Alalade (President, Merchant Navy) For the past years, democracy has helped us, it brought us back to IMO, we got back on the category C under democracy, but now, systematically again we are out of the IMO but we are still in the process of taking back our position. On the implementation of Cabotage, it is nothing to write home about. I would rate the government 20% on implementation and this is nothing to write home about. We are clamouring for a national carrier but the government has not acceded to our yearnings and it’s affecting us as a nation; we call ourselves big brothers in Africa but we don’t have national carrier and this is not good, government has not tried at all in terms of seafarers training. My scorecard of our maritime sector in the past 18 years is that we are just on average, compared to other nations like Ghana which have gone far.  

Muyiwa Akande (Head, Corporate Affairs, SIFAX Group)Talking about the assessment of the maritime industry in the past 18 years which is since the return of democracy, I would say it is a mix bag as it has to do with what could have been and what is. Like I told you, within the first 6-7 years of the period prior to the concession, it was very terrible. The turnaround time for vessel was too long the port was like a market. There were cases of wharf rats, people who live there, broke into containers and stole things. So the first 7 years of this assessment period was not the best,  but this later period a lot of improvements have been recorded especially with the new investors, the concessionaires who have taken over terminal operations. I am sure that whoever wants to say the truth will know that there is improvement. So the last 18 years have been mix bag- first half was not good, but the second half recorded a lot of improvement.  

 

Dr Obiora Madu (CEO Multimix Academy)The Nigerian maritime industry is a goldmine, which we have not really taped. This oil and gas we are talking about cannot happen without the maritime industry. For that reason everybody is focusing on oil and nobody is talking about the maritime industry. So what is going to happen is that we need to turn around and make the maximum use of the industry to be able to reap it. Take ports for example, some nations are leaving on the revenue from the ports. We are strategically located as a nation to be a logistics hub. Which of course empowered by the maritime industry and we are not. The draft of the port is very low. So we are incurring extra expenses for ships have to berth on the high sea. Some one might be saying that it is creating jobs for people who have ships but the truth is that it is creating expenses. It is cost on the business, we need to get very strategic about the maritime industry, develop it before we can reap it. It is not something that will happen overnight. We are earning money from there but we should earn more but we need to invest.     

Barrister Temisan Omatsey (Former DG NIMASA)The maritime sector in the past 18 years is not moving very well, but very soon we are going to get everything right. It is not too late; things are bad now but will definitely get better.

 

Mr. John Okpono (Deputy Sec, Merchant Navy)One thing about life is when you see a new day you appreciate it, there are so many improvement, and Nigeria is trying to acquire surveillance boat and NIMASA too. NIMASA can now track vessels from here to Ghana. You also find out that most of the vessels have a tracking device in them. As you’re a moving from one sea to the other, they can track you and tell you where you are. I will say that the maritime sector is okay, though we are still asking for more. 

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