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Maritime gets attention in FG’s N348tr five-year development plan

By Adaku Onyenucheya
29 December 2021   |   2:49 am
The Federal Government has estimated an investment of N7.73 trillion for the maritime industry and other industries under the transport sector in the N348.1 trillion earmarked

Rotimi Amaechi

The Federal Government has estimated an investment of N7.73 trillion for the maritime industry and other industries under the transport sector in the N348.1 trillion earmarked for the five-year National Development Plan (NDP) covering 2021-2025.

The Federal Government has severally been criticised for not paying attention to the maritime sector, with the industry players claiming the sector has always been left out in the government’s economic recovery agenda.

At the official launch in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari said the plan, which will run from 2021 to 2025, will include an investment portfolio to be contributed by the government and the private sector.

He said the government is expected to contribute N49.7 trillion while the rest 85.7 percent, which is N298.3 trillion, would come from the private sector.

He said the estimated public investment for the transport sector in the plan is N7.73trn from 2021-2025, as allocations would be made to priority projects in the sector as well as projects essential to the operations of the relevant MDAs at each level of government.

The NDP replaces the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which ran from 2017 to 2020. Under the programme, the President said, a Development Plan Implementation Unit headed by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, with the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, as the Vice-Chair would be established.

Buhari disclosed that the objective of the plan is to have an increased real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of five percent on average during the target period, as well as generate 21 million full-time jobs through inclusive growth and also lift 35 million Nigerians out of poverty.

He said the plan would also ensure Nigerian ports become the preferred destinations in West and Central Africa through deliberate collaborative strategies to grow throughput, improve safety and security as well as leverage technology to improve efficiency and the ease of doing business.

Additionally, he said the inland waterways would serve as an alternative cheap mode of transportation to decongest the seaports and deliver cargo closer to the hinterland.

Other objectives and targets for the maritime sector are anchored on the development of at least two deep seaports and five inland dry ports to decongest existing ports and increase inter-port competition to reduce costs.

Also, investments are expected to be made to reduce the waiting time of vessels, increase the speed of documentation as well as clearing and increase overall throughput and ship registry tonnage.

The President said the key strategies in achieving this include, implementing process infrastructure upgrade to make the Nigerian ports the main destination for shipment in West and Central Africa, such as the full implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement to reform ports procedures, especially those relating to transit cargo.

Others are improved navigation and safety of vessels within the port limit, achieving efficient port operations through complete automation of port management systems, contributing to the growth and diversification of the national economy, ensuring safer waterways and a more secure maritime domain, achieving comprehensive compliance with international maritime instruments (International Maritime Organisation and International Labour Organisation) for enhanced maritime safety and security on the Inland Waterways while improving integration with other modes of transport and creating the enabling environment to attract private sector participation in the sub-sector that would contribute to the diversification of the economy.

MEANWHILE, stakeholders have expressed doubt about the realisation of the five-year development plan.

President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, expressed doubt that the plan would be implementable.

“This is just on paper, this government has less than one year to leave office. The maritime sector is just contributing money and it is not injected into the maritime sector, government has not invested in the sector, it is just only making revenue for the government and the national economy.

“Our port system is the worst and most expensive in the world. Even shipping companies’ costs and terminals are very expensive. All these things are not achievable. The five-year plan is a paper plan except the government will be serious and determined and remove politics to see how to make things work.

“In two years, Nigeria is going to be a transit nation where people dump their goods because we are not prepared for trade facilitation and the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement. The time is too short and can’t be implemented within the short time they have left and no other government will want to implement their plan for them because they have their plan,” he stressed.

The Deputy National President, Air Logistics, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Segun Musa, said: “I do not doubt that if this is adequately captured and implemented, it will bring development.

“I have always been an advocate of giving more attention to the holistic transport sector, which is a driver of every economy. Without an effective transport system, there cannot be economic development in any nation.

“A holistic maritime sector, if adequate attention is given, will not only create jobs and grow the GDP, it is going to reposition the economy and the nation in the comity of maritime nations. If the implementation is properly guided, it will be achievable.”

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