Maritime stakeholders in the country while congratulating Maj Gen Muhammadu Buhari on his recent victory at the presidential polls, has tasked the incoming administration to pay special attention to the development of the maritime sector.
Capt. Niyi Labinjo, President, Nigerian Ship owners Association (NISA), in a congratulatory message to Buhari in Lagos on Monday, said,: “This is in view of the tremendous contributions it can make to the economy in the face of decline in crude oil income.’’
The message said the Nigerian maritime industry had the potential of generating N7 trillion annually for government.
According to the message, the Nigerian maritime is rich in hydrocarbons, minerals and aquatic resources.
“Unfortunately, the maritime potential of Nigeria has remained largely untapped over the years by past administrations.
“This is evident in our crude oil sale policy which is on Free On Board basis while the over 170 million population depend largely on imports which are on Cost Insurance Freight.
“Over the years, the implementation of our shipping policies and regulations had no significant effect on the Gross Domestic Product.
“This is despite the cabotage regime and Nigerian Content Development Act as shown in the complete absence of the maritime sector in the recent rebasing of the economy’’, Labinjo said.
He added that the maritime industry was capable of generating more than five million direct and indirect employments in next four years.
Similarly, in a separate development, the Shippers’ Association Lagos State (SALS) on Monday urged the incoming government to assist shippers in reducing the costs of doing business at the seaports.
The President of the association, Mr Jonathan Nicol, made the plea in Lagos.
Nicol said that high port charges had affected the costs of doing business in Nigeria, adding that this had encouraged diversion of cargoes to neighbouring countries.
“We have a very big problem in the maritime sector. We believe that government will stick to the maritime sector as one of the most important aspects of the nation’s economy.
“This will enable other Nigerian shippers who have gone to the neighbouring ports to come back.
“We pledge our support for the incoming government in the aspect of revenue generation at the ports, “ Nicol told NAN.
He said that Nigerians were still expecting basic infrastructure such as good roads, water supply, uninterrupted power supply, good health facilities and free education.
He, however, pleaded that government should reverse the automotive policy which imposed a 70 per cent levy and duty on imported vehicles, pending the large production of Made-in-Nigeria cars.
Nicol said, “If the automotive policy comes into existence without sufficient production of cars in the country, such a policy can destroy the transport sector.’’