When we were ushered into 2022, there were aspirations that the year would be better than the previous ones.
High expectations because the previous years had not been significantly different in the Nigerian maritime industry.
From the immediate past years, the issues that dominated the industry remain constant, perhaps in some cases becoming more daunting.
Recovering gradually from the shocks and dislocations of COVID 19, which took the whole of 2020 and ushered us into 2021, it was expected that one entered into 2022 with optimism.
It was natural that one expected that the maritime industry would regain fully in 2022. It was that fear that ushered us all into 2022.
As Nigeria’s leading maritime media organisation, we are conscious of the issues that dominated the nation’s maritime landscape, even in the years before this, and we dare say that they remained with us even as we look forward to 2023.
But the issues are still the same, perhaps in different dimensions and intense. Ask ship owners, terminal operators, freight forwarders, even shipping lines.
Of course, the highest common denominator in our collective anguish is the approaches to virtually all the nation’s seaports; from Lagos to Onne, to Warri and others, the story is the same; that of pains.
Arguably, Lagos ports enjoyed a little breather this year; the roads were not as chaotic as they were in the previous years.
For the importers, one of the agonies of 2022 is the strength of the Naira vis a vis other currencies, especially, the Dollar, Euro and Pound Sterling. It was also about how to get their cargoes out of the ports to their warehouses. They still face the overbearing presence of Customs formations, either on the roads leading out of the ports and on major highways.
For the customs licensed agents, it was the usually cumbersome and high cost of cargo clearance, for the indigenous ship owners it was the same old story of lack of patronage and dominance of foreign ship owners. For the owners/drivers of articulated vehicles that are used for dry and wet cargo haulage, 2022 is as usual, not friendly.
As much as this newspaper is not interested in agency-by –agency appraisal, we can not but note the eventual approval by the Federal Government for the disbursement of the accruals from the Cabotage Vessels Finance Fund (CVFF).
Even as we await the actual disbursement, it is a good year end gift for Nigerian ship owners who had to wait for about 18 years to partake of the fund which they contributed to grow.
We also take note of the discordant tunes from the various ship owners groups, especially as regards the actual figure of the CVFF. While not discrediting or dismissing the insinuation that the CVFF is almost $2Billion and not $350Million, it is our opinion that they should first take advantage of the funds provided.
The various ship owners’ bodies should be more interested in how the $350Million would disbursed and to whom, than how much the CVFF has accrued over the years. There are appropriate institutions of government that can dig up the actual figures when the time comes.
It is also appropriate to commend the incumbent Minister of Transportation; Engr Muazu Sambo for actualizing the dream of disbursement of the CVFF. He has succeeded where many before have failed.
This is not the avenue to do agency-by-agency appraisal. If we continue to pick on agencies and sub-sectors, there will be no space to touch on all. Suffice it to stress here that, some did well, while others didn’t do as well.
It is also apt to acknowledge the reduction in piracy and attacks on ships coming into Nigeria. Kudos must be given to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and its partners in the fight against piracy. 2022 is indeed a much better year. The arrest and prosecution of pirates is a confirmation of the success of the war.
However, we take note of the crisis that erupted in the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) in 2022. It is quite surprising that an agency that was just emerging from years of near-obscurity and penury, can slide into another season of sharp official disagreement between the Governing Council and its Executive Management as led by the Registrar; Barrister Samuel Nwakohu.
By and large, the Nigerian maritime industry fared better in 2022 than the previous years. Cargo throughput has not dropped, more ships called in, the Nigeria Customs Service succeeded in reactivating scanning of containers after many years. We can not forget the completion of the Lekki Deep Seaport in Lagos. How can we fail to also acknowledge that the two roads leading to Lagos ports are a lot better than in the previous years.
As we sign-off for 2022, all of us at First Mediacon Network Limited (owners of Shipping Position Daily newspaper, Shipping Position Live on Star FM, Shipping Position Online, and Shipping Position You Tube/Facebook Weekly Channel), also affirm that 2022 is indeed a much better year!
We can’t but thank our advertisers and sponsors and all those who diligently buy our newspaper and those who listen to us on Radio, including those who regularly visit and patronize our online platform.
We also thank those who diligently, but quietly support us.
Our greatest gratitude is to God Almighty.
May we all have Merry Christmas celebrations and a more prosperous 2023. Amen!
We hope to be back on this page on January 16, 2023.
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