What is your assessment of the Nigeria maritime industry at 59?

Captain Tajudeen Alao (Master Mariner)

There are very low activities in the maritime industry and there is also an infrastructural decay in the sector also. The infrastructure is poor and there is also less awareness and training on the need for the practitioners to embrace technology fast.

Stanley Ezenga NAGAFF)

A lot needs to be done, people at the helm of affairs in the maritime industry should be technocrats, people who have grown through the rank and files and know the industry in an out instead of giving it as political appointments to settle political loyalists. Efforts should be made to appoint the right people at the helm of affairs including the Nigerian Customs where career officers should be made to head the establishment, even NPA and NIMASA. Even though I have to give NPA kudos now as the issue of pilotage and ports facilities have tremendously improved, of course they have concessioned those areas to terminal operators, they still have to maintain some level of security. Because the re-insurgence of wharf rats is still causing a lot of confusion; don’t forget that even though they have concessioned the ports they are still the landlord. So in other ways they would still be held responsible for any lapses in the ports. There is need for security making the environment more secured. It has been a case of wobbling and fumbling, we are still making steady progress even though it is at a slow speed.

Dr. Vincent Nwani (Stakeholder)

For sure, the Nigeria maritime sector has largely underperformed its expectations. Today, Nigeria having over 200milion people in West Africa, we are about the largest but yet the maritime sector has not been able to serve as a hub in the region. The ports in Accra and Cotonou are even well positioned than the ones here in Nigeria. Nigerian ports are also one of the least under-performing ports in the world, the time to clear goods here is one of the longest and there are so many arbitrary charges. Multiplicity of agents here makes Nigeria one of the most difficult places to do business, likewise our maritime borders. Having said that, I think it is important to use this opportunity of 59 years independence to charge the Federal Government to step up efforts at cleaning up the ports’ access roads.

Engineer Matthew Alalade Merchant Navy)

I think in the spirit of the 59 years independent anniversary, the government should upgrade our maritime schools. They should also try and acquire vessels so that there would be training and also for commercial activities. As a big brother in Africa, we crave for hub center and we don’t have any ship, it is somehow, they should acquire that one for us. It is a big failure for them for this number of years.

Muyiwa Akande (SIFAX Group Terminal Operator)

From the terminal operator’s assessment, you and I know that when the government opened the space for the private sectors to come into the terminal, things have changed drastically, we know what the port was like before the concession, and what it is now.

This is basically because of quality of man power that the private sector has invested, and there has been a huge investment in equipment; almost all of these terminals are investing in equipment, because they realize that for them to satisfy their customers, they have to invest, unlike the pre concession days where government didn’t have enough money to buy equipment.

I want to say that things are getting better and the terminals are looking friendly unlike what it used to be, where people where leaving in the terminal.

So, if am to look at it from the time of concession till date, I would say things are no longer the way they used to be.

Darrick Jude Ige (Freight Forwarder)

Not much has changed, the terminal operators and importers are groaning, businesses are dying, and motorists have tagged the port a no go area due to the port access roads. There are other bottlenecks, but the traffic situation is worrisome, many of the shipping lines are not receiving empty container and when they don’t receive these containers, they cause gridlock on the road because there is no space in the holding bays and the terminal operators and NPA are responsible for the provision of the holding bays. So assessing it, I would say nothing much has changed.

Alex Afolalu (Maritime Lawyer)

If we are to look at the maritime sector holistically, it may be really difficult to assess, from the agencies, at the port, to shipping companies, terminal operators, freight forwarders and the access roads and the rest. We can’t say we have attained where we want to be, there are bottlenecks here and there, Nigeria is still considered to be a no go area for vessels bad port access roads, however that does not mean nothing positive has happened, we all know what the port used to be like before now, and what it is today, the revenue of the customs from the ports is increasing every year, we no longer have what they call wharf rats and the rest. So I would say we are not there yet. But we are not where we used to be.