Dearth of infrastructure, infractions among regulatory agencies and corruption have been identified among others as killing maritime business in Nigeria.
The President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mrs Toki Mabogunje, who identified those factors also said that inefficiency of Nigerian seaports and underdevelopment of the assets have earned poor rating, even in West Africa sub-region.
Mabogunje said this at the LCCI’s maritime sector group inaugural webinar on Wednesday, which aim was to ensure improved port operations for better national economic outcomes.
She noted that over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s imports and exports were conveyed via sea, underscoring the strategic importance of maritime to the domestic and global economy.
The LCCI President said that in spite of the strategic importance of maritime activities to trade facilitation and industrialisation, Nigerian seaports remained largely underdeveloped and poorly ranked among its peers in West Africa sub-region.
According to her, no economy can be competitive in the international trade arena without an efficient and functional maritime sector.
The President said that the formation of the maritime group was borne out of the need to consolidate the Chamber’s advocacy activities in the sector to improve trade facilitation and global supply chain linkages.
“There are several challenges bothering on delays in import and export processes, heavy human and vehicular congestion around the ports, policy and regulatory inconsistencies, infrastructure and logistic constraints.
“Others are difficulty in gaining access to the ports, security concerns and incidence of corruption and infractions among regulatory agencies at the ports.
“This has continued to complicate the ease of doing business at the port environment with gross implications for investment promotion, and so this situation underscores the imperative of critical reforms in the maritime sector.
“The creation of this group is aimed at making the Chamber’s advocacy agenda more impactful in the maritime sector, particularly within the framework of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“The Group serves as a platform for the Chamber to engage relevant authorities in the maritime space on industry and company-specific issues affecting investors,” she said.
Also, Mrs Mojisola Bakare, LCCI’s Vice President, said without an efficient maritime sector, the Nigerian economy could not progress, as trade and commerce would be significantly constrained.
Bakare notes the critical role the sector played in the development of the nation’s economy.
She said the chamber was seeking to play a major role in influencing policies and regulations to create an enabling environment for investors in the sector.
“The impact of an inefficient maritime sector is systemic, affecting practically all sectors of the economy.
“Without maritime, we cannot talk of trade, both exports and imports, and so it will be difficult to diversify the economy.
“I have no doubt that this group would bring tremendous value to stakeholders in the sector,” she said.
In his remarks, Mr Adebayo Sarumi, former Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), urged the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) to play more active roles in complementing government’s efforts to improve ports efficiency.
Sarumi said at the LCCI’s maritime sector group inaugural webinar on Wednesday that this was to ensure improved port operations for better national economic outcomes.
He listed areas for improvement, for better ports efficiency, to include logistics and transportation, barge operations, and technology, amongst others.
The former NPA boss also charged the chamber to make efforts to be a part of the nation’s budget formulation process, to address regulations clogging up access and other logistics embargoes to the ports.
“The LCCI is doing well but must ensure that it uses its position to find solutions to problems militating against port accessibility, even at the level of the government.
“Port efficiency would not be total and complete without the efforts of the private sector complementing what government is doing.
“You cannot leave it all to the government to do, as in other countries, it is not done like that.
“We observed that majority of the trucks on the road have been in use for up to 30 years.
“I, therefore, implore the LCCI to engage banks in the purchase of trucks, building of export receiving warehouses and also buy some equipment necessary to facilitate better port operations.
“The LCCI can also give governmental intelligent reports, clues, and suggestions to tackle corruption at the ports for improved ports services,” he said.