It our first edition of the year. We welcome you back into our world, and thank you for keeping faith with us.
In this part of the world as with elsewhere, the norm is to be hopeful that each New Year will be better than the previous one.
So, even as the issues of the previous years have remained prevalent and dominant, the tendency to be pessimistic is indeed high.
As usual, the Nigerian maritime industry, just like others contended and indeed struggled with other sectors to cope with the challenges of 2022, there were indeed some issues that had their own identities. There were issues such as bad port access roads, scarcity of forex for importation, extortion, and a plethora of others.
It is shocking that for the fifth year running, the fears that we nursed and indeed predicted have refused to abate.
From shippers to clearing agents, to ship owners, haulage operators, stevedoring companies, the story was the same. It was perhaps worse for those who either work or live in the port city of Apapa and its environs, who had to contend with debilitating traffic. Respite started coming
For the importers, the agony of 2022, as with previous years, was still about accessibility and cost of foreign exchange, which at a point climbed to as high as N900 to $1 in the parallel market. For the customs licensed agents, it was the usually cumbersome and high cost of cargo clearance. For the ship owners, it was the same old story of lack of patronage and dominance of foreign ship owners and the non-disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund. For the owners/drivers of articulated vehicles that are used for dry and wet cargo haulage, 2022 was not quite different from previous years. But for those who patronized them, it was a bit better, because it cost less.
We all saw how trucking of containers out of Lagos ports became a hot cake for truck owners in 2020, but it wasn’t the same in 2021, thanks to the electronic call up system of the NPA. However, trucking business still remained an avenue for extortion by certain interests, even in 2022.
The problem of haulage was due to the slow pace of the reconstruction going on at the Apapa end of the Oworonsoki –Apapa expressway.
Just like in the previous years when government mounted pressure on the maritime sector for revenue, owing to the drop in earnings from crude oil, attention was on the sector for revenue for the government in 2022.
As we begin the journey into 2023, first on our ‘wish list’ is the roads leading to Tin Can ports. Although the situation from Mile 2 to Tin Can is getting better, the headache on the approach to Mile 2 from Cele Bus stop is killing. We hope that this will not be carried over to 2024!
One of the good sides of 2021 was the coming into life of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN). This is exemplified by the myriads of positives that the Council recorded in that year. But, 2022 ended in a rather unpleasant manner for both the governing council and the management headed by the Registrar. We had prayed for the emergence of a new governing council for the CRFFN in 2022. Our prayer was answered, but the Council is becoming increasingly hot for any meaningful development. We hope that the issues that are hampering cordial relationship and that are making the council to be less relevant will be resolved early enough this year. We throw our weight behind the Registrar who is seeking reappointment. Our position is based on his achievements
As a maritime media organisation, we are happy about the decline in attack on ships coming into or sailing out of Nigeria. We commend both NIMASA and the Nigeria Navy for this feat. Our waters are safer now than they were in 2021.
We recall with pride, the test that the SPOMO Act was put to in 2022, and we hope that in 2023 NIMASA will work more seriously towards ensuring that arrested pirates are sent to jail by the instrumentality of the Act.
We also hope that, the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund which the minister had directed will not just be a political statement.
Yes, the current government will exit in May. It will be an opportunity after then to appraise its impact on the nation’s maritime industry.
In the life of this government, we have had stability in the appointment of a transportation minister. We have had only two. It is our hope that, 2023 will usher in a new Minister of Transportation with a clear understanding of his mandate.
It is our prayer that 2023 will be happier and more prosperous than the previous years. Amen.
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