Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Emmanuel Jime, (left); Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Mrs Magdalene Ajani and Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu during a one-day sensitisation programme on the mandate of Shippers’ Council as Port Economic Regulator, held in Lagos.
Stakeholders have called for improved export to boost the country’s economic performance.
The stakeholders who attended a one-day sensitisation programme organised by the Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) in Lagos, said increasing Nigeria’s export trade will help in bailing the economy out of the current crisis.
The Chairperson of the Nigerian Ship Owners’ Forum, Magreth Orakwusi, said without an increase in export, the nation’s fragile currency, will disappear.
She lamented that those who are into the business of export are not being encouraged, which is why importers and exporters would rather use ports in neighbouring countries.
Orakwusi advised that there was the need to ensure efficiency in handling export goods as well as the need to facilitate trade to attract investors and grow businesses in the country.
She also stressed the need to address the issue of corruption in the system and encourage competition to attract investment and grow businesses.
She also charged government agencies and ministries to be efficient and support businesses, rather than focus on revenue generation for the government.
A maritime lawyer, Emmanuel Nwagbara called on the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to dedicate a terminal to export goods, adding that the system would be the beginning of meaningful progress in foreign exchange earnings for the country.
Nwagbara said dedicating a terminal to export would boost the interest of Nigerians in international trade, even as he decried various frustrations and restrictions that exporters face moving their cargoes to the port.
“You hear of perishable foods going bad before they get to the ship, but all of this will be a thing of the past if we have a terminal expressly dedicated for export business,” he said.
The National President of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Lawal Othman, called on the shipper’s council to make the port function actively through excessive export.
“We know that for this export to take place we need to take care of the hinterland from where this cargo is being generated, how it gets to the port, you need to make those things active and the only way to make them active is through the use of trucks.
Speaking earlier, the Executive Secretary of the NSC, Emmanuel Jime had in his welcome address canvassed the need to develop Nigeria’s industrial base to improve trade balance and boost her economy.
He said globally, West and Central African sub-regions still have the least cargo volumes, adding that one of the reasons for the trade imbalance is the composition of sub-Saharan African trade, which is about six per cent of global trade.
He said about 70 per cent of export cargoes are primary commodities, while the majority of imports were made up of consumer goods.
Jime said the port, as critical infrastructure should be competitive to check monopoly and be free for numerous players to enter and exit, for the benefit of lower prices and efficient service delivery, usually associated with the competition.
Jime also noted that an increase in charges in the maritime industry shall henceforth be related to quality service by operators.
He stated that the reaffirmation of the Council as the Economic regulator by the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, would not allow any unilateral increase of charges by operators.
According to him, “We will now redouble our efforts reemphasise the areas where we have already been providing service. It is now clear that no agency or stakeholder can wake up on their whims and go into the marketplace and decide for themselves what charges to impose on our maritime services
“You have to negotiate with the Shippers’ Council whether there should be an increase or a decrease and this is going to impact the economy because we are talking of competitiveness and to be competitive, the cost of business must be related to the quality of services that are delivered,” he said.
Jime informed that the Council would now carry out its mandate of a regulator having been backed up with a pronouncement by the Federal Government.
He added that it will put an end to interagency rivalry and birth a new morning where the agencies would work together, having their roles well defined.