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Stakeholders fault underreporting of maritime’s contribution to GDP

By Adaku Onyenucheya
31 August 2022   |   2:48 am
Stakeholders in the maritime sector have expressed displeasure over the under-reporting of the sector’s contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

[files] An aerial view of trucks parked on the road side waiting to get access into Tincan port in Apapa, Lagos, on January 11, 2021. (Photo by Benson Ibeabuchi / AFP)

Stakeholders in the maritime sector have expressed displeasure over the under-reporting of the sector’s contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The stakeholders reacted to the 2022 second quarter (Q2) GDP numbers released recently by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The General Secretary, Association of Bonded Terminal Operators of Nigeria, Haruna Omolajomo, said the maritime sector is the second revenue earner for the economy as it encompasses many chains of businesses such as logistics, export, import, haulage, warehousing, shipping and forwarding, among others.

He said although, road transportation takes a larger chunk of almost
60 per cent of the economic contribution of the transport sector, water, air and rail also contribute to the economy.

He said barge operation contributes between 25 to 30 per cent to the economy.

“There are other means of transportation, which are water followed by air and rail in that order. Therefore, it is not correct to say that only roads contributed to the GDP. Water, through the use of barges in conveying volumes of containers also contributed significantly to the GDP.

“I am aware that barges were able to move over one million TEUs in the previous year. Though no record yet for this quarter, barges are still moving cargoes through water in hundreds. Even NPA and other governmental agencies are benefitting through levies and dues they are collecting from barge operators for services rendered through waterways,” he explained.

Omolajomo said with Customs exceeding its target for revenue generation over the years shows that maritime businesses are still striving well despite the world’s low turnout due to the Ukraine and Russia war.

“I strongly appeal to those in charge of the GDP report to beam their searchlight into the activities of barge operations in the country. We all know that barges started in a very serious swing about two years ago. They are waxing strongly nowadays. Besides, all necessary infrastructures needed to make our waterways barge-friendly in terms of operations should be encouraged. It is safer and less costly,” he said.

The Public Relations Officer, Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN), Taiwo Fatomilola, lamented that the maritime sector has been neglected in terms of its contribution to the economy.

“In listing the GDP of Nigeria, maritime is supposed to come up because it was the sector that sustained the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Excluding the maritime sector’s contribution to the GDP is not authentic.
With the way the federal government is strangulating port users with exorbitant duty collection, how can maritime not contribute to the GDP when government agencies in the sector are exceeding revenue generation targets,” he said.

The President, the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, said the maritime sector is going through stress, especially the challenges of the exchange rate, anti-trade policies and lack of access to Forex for importation.

“Many people are not importing because they cannot access forex. There should be a total overhaul because there are too many policies in the sector. The sector is not coordinated. This is why the contribution of maritime to the economy is not significant lately,” he said.

A Former Chairman, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Murtala Mohammed International Airport chapter, Dr. Segun Musa, stressed that the maritime sector is not doing well lately, especially with the number of cargo inputs – export and import, which are not so encouraging.

“The traffic has dropped and that is why we have a serious challenge when it comes to revenue generation.

“We need to work on the traffic within the port corridors, we need to look at the policy drive for the import regime as well as the export. We also need to look at policies that will cushion the effect of forex shortages.