‘Nuggets for vibrant sea trade’
THE Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, has advised relevant agencies in Nigeria to put in place comfortable business environment as part of measures to attract and ensure a vibrant sea trade.
Speaking at the maiden edition of International Seatrade and Investment Convention, in Lagos on Monday, Bello said friendly business environment play crucial roles in the development and growth of international trade especially export.
According to Bello, the competitive nature of export trade makes it imperative for Nigeria as a nation to put the necessary infrastructure in place.
He explained that sea trade involves a chain of activities/actors that facilitate the movement of goods in international trade, pointing out that for trade to contribute optimally to economic growth, “attention must be paid to the various aspects of the sector by investing in them for growth”.
He identified the principal links as the Seaport and its infrastructure such as Ship or vessel and the cargo.
Explaining further, Bello said: “In addition to these, there are ancillary activities such as Freight Forwarding, trucking, insurance, banking, cargo surveying, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) provision, among others”
Bello said: “The Seaport is a vital link leg in the sea trade and needs a focused attention by policy makers. Without the ports, there will be no effective and efficient sea trade.
“To guarantee the sustainable development of the sea ports, infusion of private investments is an imperative.
“However, in order to attract this much needed private investments, conducive climate have to be created.
“Areas in which to create conducive environment in particular is guaranteeing a level playing field, competition among service providers by eliminating monopolies, ensuring quality of service through global best practices as well as fostering transparency and enhancing reduction in cost of doing business.
“This is where economic regulation of the ports becomes an imperative for the development of the nation’s sea trade.
“Mindful of the importance of the seaports, NSC conducted a study on the establishment of a Sea link within the Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Zone (JDZ) aimed at:
*Reducing the cost of moving cargo among the countries of the JDZ and increase maritime and trading activities
*Improving frequency of maritime services between Nigeria and Sao Tome & Principe which will ultimately improve commerce in and around the entire Gulf of Guinea.
*Improving private sector initiative through the provision of efficient sea transport services by giving them competitive edge to exporters and importers.
*Reducing transportation costs;
*Eliminating the need for cargo trans-shipment in Europe for Intra-African trade, and
*Increasing trade volume and improve efficiency in transportation in the Sub-region and Boosting economic growth and development for Nigeria.
He explained that a study conducted by NAFITH on the Lagos Logistics Ring (LLR), on the Apapa-Ijora-Orile-Mile 2-Tin Can-Apapa corridor (LLR) shows that:
*On a daily basis, between
5000 to 7000 trucks/tankers traverse the LLR;
*Actual number that the ports and tank farms can accept is between 1500 and 2050 trucks (maximum)
*Gridlock could be eradicated through a proper electronics scheduling of
the maximum truck capacity of 1500 to 2050 trucks that the ports and tank farm can
take on daily basis.
*Successful consultation with and enlisting the support of critical stakeholders and agencies in the sector such as NCS, NPA, SON, NAQC, NIS, etc. to seek their collaboration in the effective discharge of the directive given to NSC as the Interim Economic Regulator for Nigerian Ports.
*Provision of logistic support for Federal Roads Committee on Surveillance Against Road Abuse (FERCSARA) for the management of traffic on the Papa port access road,
*Ongoing efforts, in conjunction with CRFFN, to harmonize the tariff of Freight Forwarders,
*Ongoing design of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for operators and agencies in the port industry to enthrone transparency and efficiency in ports operations
*It is expected that a buy-in of all stakeholders, including government agencies in the port industry, into the regulatory process will on the long run facilitate:
*Linking of the railways to the ports for prompt evacuation of cargo
*Repair of Port Access Roads
*Decongestion of Port Access Roads leading to improved Truck Transit Time at Ports;
*Re-Fleeting of Rickety Trucks;
*Installment of Electronic Gating and Call System;
*Guaranteed Loading Opportunity for Truckers;
*These are issues presently hindering the efficiency of the nation’s seaports.
Earlier, while declaring the convention open, former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar challenged African countries to put in place adequate transport and logistics infrastructure as part of measure to boost export.
He said Africans should move from the mindset of thinking only about Europe, Asia, and the Americas whenever export trade is discussed.
He said Africa is experiencing “exponential growth in economy and in population”, adding that the development translates to market.
According to Abubakar, to facilitate export trade on a continental basis, there is need to adopt and implement policy of intra Africa and inter-regional trade amongst Africa countries.
He said every Africa country should tailor its domestic policies towards global goal, pointing out that Transport linkages between Africa countries require deliberate effort.
Abdulsalami said: “For instance, as countries invest in and improve their transport infrastructure, we should deliberately invest only in infrastructure that is interoperable with that of the neighboring country.
“For example, type of rail gauges should be uniform to facilitate trade with neighboring states. Countries should implement regulations that reduces bureaucracy and obstacles to trade between Africa countries”, said Abdulsalami.
He described the recent ban on certain Nigerian food products from export to European Union as “most undesirable”.
He urged participants at the conference to highlight the different levels of failure that resulted in reducing Nigeria’s volume of trade rather than increasing and suggest pragmatic steps to reversing the ban and preventing future occurrence.
Speaking on the theme “Exploring New Trade Frontiers”, the former head of state said trade patterns in Africa have remained virtually the same even after decades of independence from colonialism and economic growth.
He said Africa’s outbound cargo is largely exports commodities to the Western/Asian countries while inbound cargo consist of finished products from those foreign partners.
Abdulsalami said: “To break it further down, the prevalent trading route is along colonial relationship such that Francophone/Luxophone and Aglophone Africa Countries export goods to and import same from their respective erstwhile European colonialist.
“Inter and intra trade between and within African countries have failed to develop in tandem with economic growth recorded in the continent.
In his welcome remark, the chairman of the convention and former Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Chief Adebayo Sarumi urged Nigerians to take advantage of the recent restriction of 41 items to Foreign Exchange (FOREX) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The event had in attendance a cross section of stakeholders in the maritime sector such as representative of the Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Rufai, former Director General of NIMASA, Mfor Usoro, Mrs Ify Anazonwu-Akerele, Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi, among others