Stakeholders in the nation’s maritime industry have unveiled a spectrum of expectations for the year 2024, hinting at a potential transformation within the sector.
The stakeholders who spoke to our correspondent recently, called for a transformation of the maritime industry in 2024.
In a chat with our correspondent; Otunba Sola Adewumi, President of Nigerian Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA) emphasized the importance of implementing the Cabotage Act. “Let the government fully implement the Cabotage Act to enhance shipping development in Nigeria, this is the way to go in 2024”, he said.
Another member of NISA; Mr. Sola Olatunji, while expressing skepticism about the lack of a blueprint from the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, finds optimism in potential business opportunities arising from Dangote and Port Harcourt Refineries that are about to commence operations.
“We are yet to see anything from the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy. We don’t have any blueprint to work with, and I doubt if this year is going to be different from last year. But we believe that Dangote and Port Harcourt Refineries will provide opportunities for people in the shipping businesses to have more businesses”. he said.
Dr. Muda Yusuf, President of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE) echoes the sentiment of change, hoping for improvement under the present administration. He emphasized that, “We hope to see an improvement in all those areas, particularly the processes such as cargo clearance processes, export processes, automation of the process, leveraging technology.”
On his part, Captain Tajudeen Alao, President of Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, anticipates positive reports, highlighting recent developments such as the extension of Nigeria’s maritime domain. He believes this extension holds economic potential. “With the maritime domain extension at sea, if the country probes further and puts money into research, the economic benefits there will be fantastic”, he said.
In a bid to tackle existing challenges in the industry, Dr. Kayode Farinto, a former acting President of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), called for efforts to cushion the effects of economic fluctuations, suggesting a dedicated exchange rate for cargo clearance.
Additionally, Farinto emphasized the necessity for a comprehensive review of port concession agreement to ensure a conducive business environment, stating that “the first thing I want the government to do is to set out mitigants that will cushion effects of the various policies that are too harsh.”
Adding to the chorus of expectations, Mr. Babatunde Mukaila, a former National Secretary of ANLCA also stressed the need for transparency and predictability in maritime sector processes to align with international best practices.
Mukaila further expanded the horizon of expectations, advocating for the prioritization of aquaculture and improvement in maritime engineering under the blue economy. He envisions job creation in emerging areas such as seabed mining, water desalination, and coastal tourism for healthy relaxation.
“I expect nothing less than transparency and predictability of maritime sector processes in line with international best practices. Blue economy should prioritise full annexation of aquaculture and improvement on maritime engineering to provide jobs in the emerging areas like seabed mining, water desalination, more interestingly to help develop coastal tourism for healthy relaxation”, he said.
Also speaking, Dr. Olusegun Musa, Deputy National President of Air and Logistics of NAGAFF (National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders), advocated consistent fiscal policies, urging the Comptroller General of Customs to engage stakeholders for a thorough discussion on system improvements.
Automation of clearance processes was emphasized as a key factor in creating a more efficient and equitable industry landscape. Musa said, “We also want the Comptroller General of Customs to engage stakeholders. We want him to engage us to have a serious discussion on how to improve the system.”