Barrister Michael Ovien (Maritime Practitioner)
For us in the maritime industry we have not done well, especially on the road aspect which is the logistics, the roads leading to the ports have been left fallow without repairs and this has reduced the total revenue collected by 40 percent, it is really affecting all port users, especially the freight forwarders and licensed customs agents. Shipping and terminal operators have enriched themselves to the detriment of importers and agents, the operators are smiling to the bank while importers and agents are left with nothing, 2017 is the worst ever experienced in the maritime sector, everybody is trying to look as if they are happy, but they are not happy. Government should look at the road in 2018.
Remi Ogungbemi (Chairman, AMARTO)
The performance of the sector is below my expectation and one of the recent challenges is the difficulty in moving the cargo out of the port as a result of the deplorable condition of the road. I expect the government to come up and declare a state of emergency on the access roads to the port in the bid to make it motorable, I know that government is working on Wharf road, but for the Tin Can road that has collapsed, something urgent needs to be done, again, the government should look for a holding bay for the trucks coming to operate at the port.
Shedrack Chukwuemeka (Chairman, Tin Can Port Container Complex)
The maritime sector has not done well in 2017, reason is that when the federal government says the port should operate 24 hours, we were all very happy, but in the case of the shipping companies, we have realized they are not helping issues at all, as a shipping company they ought to have an holding bay for empty containers, they should have all the facilities that makes a shipping company. Also, since 2012, the issues of duties on used vehicles have not been reviewed, by now they are supposed to review it, moving forward into 2018.of a vehicle you bought six years ago the same amount today, it is very bad. So in 2018, that is what we want them to do, let them review it because since they said no more importation of cars through the borders, they should do this so that those who are smuggling would know they are supposed to come to the seaport, pay their duty to the federal government.
Barrister Ada Akpunonu (Licensed Customs Agent)
I would score the maritime sector below average in 2017, we have not achieved anything, the shipping companies and terminal charges are killing and not friendly for business, most of our customers have diverted their operations to Cotonou. Also, the roads have become a death trap; we have not fared well generally. In 2018, we pray that the government would do something about the state of the road leading to the various ports, Every day you hear the Minister of Finance talking about revenue and need to pay taxes, but what about the one we have been paying? We have had additional charges this year from NPA, they call it port recovery fee, each 40foot container is paying N70, 000, rather than bring the change the government promised, they have only succeeded in bring difficulty and burden to the masses. We pray that they look into all the charges, look into the state of the roads; it is exposing everyone working in Apapa to danger.
Paul Ndibe (Director General, CILT)
In assessing this year, I will say that the transport sector is trying to have a re-bounce but it is not being coordinated. Firstly, look at the aviation, look at how the reconstruction of Abuja run-way happened and what it cost, it should have been planned and authentic arrangement should have been made. Decisions would have been made around making it more convenient for people. The absence of a national carrier is also an issue the government should look at. Our domestic airlines have gone under and it is not good for the economy, the problem should be identified and the government should also address it. The private operators should also think again about their startup capital for funding such a business concern. Then on the road sector, they have not done badly but the problem is Apapa road is seriously bad. Government would realize the effect by first quarter of next year when calculations would have been made. They have not been major improvement on the major highways. Now on the maritime, the idea of a truck transit park is beautiful but it is not yet concluded and arrangement in that regards is yet to start. The beginning of the year was not wonderful in the maritime sector because of the exchange rate. On the railway, there have been marginal improvement but they are still on the drawing line because we have not seen any concrete effect on the output from the railway side.
Sunny Nnebe (Chairman, IFFA Tin Can Chapter)
The maritime sector in 2017 is zero, we have not done well, the policies of the government is highly discouraging, if you look at vehicles that are supposed to pay lower than they are paying, government would tell you higher, and after giving you value for a vehicle, by the time you punch and pay your duty, you would see alert from CPC, from Assistant Comptroller, by the time you begin to settle all these people, you must have lost three days, those are the inconsistency of government. When it comes to container cargoes, the same things happen, we have gate alert, CIU alert, Valuation alert, CPC alert, Abuja alert. At the end of the day when your cargo leaves the port, compliance unit and the FOU is waiting for you, all of them are the same customs. The bad road is also another problem we cry out about every day, yesterday, about three containers fell down at coconut, the deplorable condition of the road is not encouraging, there is no road anywhere, and palliative measures should be applied pending when the real construction of the roads would start.
Captain Tajudeen Alao (Master Mariner)
Because of the situation of the economy, many activities did not take place this year as they are supposed to, but the most significant thing that happened was that the government has taken a bold step. It was this year that they have a committee headed by the Vice President on the ease of doing business in the ports. That was a very bold step and all the stakeholders were part of the committee headed by NPA so that all these bureaucracy in the ports and obstructions will be removed. Government is already fixing the roads, all the problems challenging the maritime peace will be approached and there will be solution.
Mr. James Brown Nwakwuoke (Car Dealer)
The industry this year has been very poor. If I want to assess the year I will start from my office here and things have been very slow and poor this year. It is no longer business as usual because when you say somebody cannot bring his vehicle because he has not paid duty, you send him parking. He has to leave the market. The business has been second to nothing here this year.
Emmanuel Agubanze (NAGAFF Chieftain)
In my assessment of the maritime industry this year, I will say that we don’t have vision. Nigeria as a nation is characterized by backwardness and the maritime industry is not an exception. It seems we are not making any serious attempt to achieve our dream. You know we are talking about Nigeria becoming a hub, but what have we done towards achieving that status? We have done nothing. When you talk about maritime, you are talking about international and globalised business and they are not doing anything. If you look at it, we are not doing anything. The government should work towards establishing and sustaining good maritime platform. As far as I am concerned, I won’t score them high.
Engineer Matthew Alalade (President, Merchant Navy Association)
In performance, I will say that the industry has scored less than 40%. You can see that from all the things that have been happening so far. Look at the IMO elections, we hope that there will be improvement next year; the government policies are not helping us at all. The policies are bringing us down and they don’t border on maritime issues. In aviation and other sectors the government is more serious, unlike the maritime; they should know that we are in the same transport. The money they spend in training people outside especially the seafarers, if they invest it here, we would save money and they should also provide vessels for seafarers so that they will have seatime.
Alhaji Adbullahi Inuwa (Chairman, Dry Cargo Section, NARTO)
This year, we encountered a lot of challenges; you see the turnaround is not much. Cargoes are being trapped in the ports because of some factors and those factors are mostly due to the deplorable condition of the roads, manipulation by the shipping companies and terminal operators. Again some people who disguise as if they came to regulate traffic have turned it to be a money-making venture and these are causing a lot of hiccups within the industry. My expectation next year is that we assume that the government; that is the port regulatory officers, shipping companies and terminal operators should look at the station. They should come out fully to ensure that the shipping companies are doing the needful by providing holding bays for empty containers. The government should also ensure the speed of the construction of the Apapa link roads.
Nicodemus Odolo(Shippers Association)
The maritime sector could not achieve much despite increase in cargo (import duties and other taxes) and other activities because of unfriendly shipping, terminal operations and bad access roads. If required port facilities, good access roads and cost of doing business are friendly compared with other countries, maritime will surely generate revenue than oil.In rating I will rate the Nigeria maritime performance to be 40%.