· Maritime industry a failure after 60 years—– Mr Lucky Amiwero
· Human elements causing maritime underdevelopment—-Dr Boniface Aniebonam
Stakeholders in the nation's maritime sector have described it as a failure, even after 60 years of independence, others also described the growth as a mixed-bag without sufficient evidence to show.
They stated that human elements have affected the growth of the industry, which has led to little or no growth of the sector over the last six decades.
Speaking with our correspondent on the commemoration of Nigeria at 60, the Chairman, Port Consultative Council (PCC) Otunba Kunle Folarin noted that although there have been several interventions in the maritime sector since independence in 1960, these have not really resulted into significant development of the sector.
Folarin said the maritime sector which is the pillar of Nigeria’s economy still has a lot to do to attain the status of being called a maritime nation.
He said although the Nigeria shipping terrain was in 1960 dominated by foreign traffic vessels, but over time the country was able to create the national shipping line and as well brought into the foray few private sector initiatives. He further said that, although the country has increased its capacity in the port system, but with only few indigenous participation in all of the development.
According to him, the country has not been able to attracted more than two percent of the indigenous participation in the Nigeria maritime space.
The frontline stakeholder however suggested that for the country to build a formidable maritime sector, she must pay close attention to issues such as: Ship Registry, man power development, operational efficiency in the ports.
He added that there is need to establish the port working community system that will help reduce the trooping of people into the port for one reason or the other.
“When you have a port community system working fully, it will be computer-integrated and you can sit even in your office and transact business in the port”
Folarin also listed the single window platform as a way that can help reduce the bottlenecks of documentation procedures in the ports.
“The single window project which has refused to fly in the last 10 years or more, the single window project is adopted all over the world, in moving goods and services from the ports, we need to reduce bottlenecks of documentation procedures in the port, one of the ways we can do that is to ensure that we deploy the single window project and stop all the ramblings between the agencies”.
He added that: “We must have a master plan; a 25-year master plan for port development must be created, we must have strategic planning that deals with all emergency issues in the system. There must be alliances with all the port players, let us work as a team and not individually, so that we can achieve the ultimate goal”.
Speaking also on how far the country has performed, the founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Dr. Boniface Aniebonam said although the government has good intentions to reform the ports over the years, human elements have not allowed good intentions to succeed.
Aniebonam said issues such as the port access roads have remained the way it is, due to corrupt officials who have seen the port access roads as cash cow. He said the standard operating procedures at the port has been truncated, while stating that the only way out of the present situation is to get a good leader who will not be ethnocentric and will shun all form of nepotism.
“The government has intention to reform the port for the good of the people, and boost international trade, but unfortunately human elements have not allowed the intentions to succeed and that’s predicated on corruption.
“Then you look at the agencies of government at the port how many of them are following the procedures, you remembered that I have classified the port as a system collapse and the construction of this Apapa road is about four years now, does that mean we are going to leave with that, it’s becoming more dangerous because it is a cash cow sector and some people are making huge money there now.
“Its most unfortunate and regrettable, but there is hope and it’s all about leadership, Nigeria is yearning for a great leader that will emerge and will stand out as a child of God to bring about good governance; so Nigeria is yearning for good governance”, he stressed.
Speaking also, the National President of the National Council for Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) Mr. Lucky Amiwero described the maritime industry as a failure at 60, stating that none of the indices are favourable.
Amiwero averred that the sector is bedeviled with a lot of high cost of doing business which has made Nigeria port the costliest in the world, adding that lack of functioning scanners has made things difficult at the nation’s seaports.
Amiwero called for a total overhaul of the port system, while urging the government to put professionals at the helm of affairs and not politicians, he said the nation is lacking in every area of trade facilitation
On his part, the Chairman Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi lamented that since independent the government has paid little or no attention to the trucking section of the maritime sector, stating that government only came up with short term ideas which has had little or no effect in the sector, he alleged that the same roads since independence is still the same road truckers use with no expansion while appealing to the government to come up with strategic plan that will solve the bottlenecks in the maritime haulage sector.
“Things are so pathetic and it is very unfortunate that the government has neglected the trucking sector so unfortunate that government only come up with cosmetics that cannot be healed, if you sustain injury and you apply cosmetic it cannot heal, we expected that by now government would have come up with a very unique plan that will change the policy and trend that have become obsolete,
“So, I am advising and appealing to the people in authority to see how we can change things, we cannot continue to act the same way, the road can no longer accommodate the volume of activities, the roads we have been using for over 40 to 60 years is still the same road we are using no expansion, most of commotion and collusion that we are experiencing is because government has failed to come up with a solution.
“The only solution the government could come up with is the taskforce committee who see it as an opportunity to enrich themselves and the government believes all is well, I must tell you the truth all is not well we need to change the trend and policy that has become obsolete that is what I believe will bring solutions to all these problem”.