Olu Akinsoji’s thoughts on contemporary maritime issues in Nigeria
On our request, Engr. Olu Akinsoji shares his thoughts and gave some insights on very contemporary issues in Nigeria’s maritime industry.
- The article substantially credited to Capt. Alao: ‘Urgent fixes Nigeria’s Maritime sector requires’ is commendable and a real food for thought for the well-meaning relevant political authorities of the maritime industry of our country. The contemporary issues raised in that article are pertinent and should be addressed, they must not be allowed to continue to decay as the consequences will be devastating.
- The issue raised by Funmi Folorunsho concerning the listing of our country on the global ship owning nations is very revealing and delightful. The recognition is worthy of note because the annual report of UNCTAD is a traditional consistent reference document of immense value to all shipping and research fellows in the international shipping trade.
However, we must not rest our oars on this revelation. The value of our listing should be considered along with our relative cargo throughput to other African nations. We generate relatively such an enormous cargo that our value on that list should worry the political authorities. It should urge them to improve their understanding of global shipping and take all necessary steps to make investment in ship owning by Nigerians and Nigerian corporate bodies attractive.
If we want to be genuinely relevant in the comity of maritime nation, we should fly Nigerian flag in the ocean of the world, carry our fair share of owned cargo, earn the freight, thereby enhancing our capacity and attracting all other social/economic benefits of the shipping trade. All these we are presently throwing away to our business partners because we seam complacent with tariff, levies, taxes and all other unorthodox earnings rather than earning from efficient services that will improve our capacity and give us a sound foundation for sustainable development.
- Recently, precisely during the 2020 passing out parade of the cadets at the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, over a breakfast, I was discussing with two prominent maritime people and two issues worthy of mentioning came up. They include the ignominious Lagos port access and the alarming cost of evacuating containers in the port. The port Access chaotic situation has persisted for few years despite the rigorous efforts by the authorities, recycled knee-jerk actions!! I don’t want to believe that it may be a deliberate political desire to make the Lagos port unattractive.
May I suggest we harmonise all the formal solution plans and with sincerity of purpose, political will and power put the resultant plan to effect even if it is in prioritised phases. As for the escalated cost of evacuating a container in the port, we are reliably told it costs as high as two million naira, a very dangerous trend according to the practitioners. In my view the resultant effect will not remain with the port and port entities but the ripple effect will touch everybody in this country. I can comfortably assume that over eighty percent of subsistence materials and facilities of our wellbeing come through the ports. This situation may not be unconnected with the increase in the market value of most things now in the market. I think we should be careful on this matter.
- Finally, I want to suggest a possible solution to one area of the industry that has appeared to be a challenge for development. My suggestion is that the Director General of NIMASA should demonstrate his support and willingness for Nigerians and Nigerian corporate bodies to own and operate international ships in order to carry (flying our flag) our fair share of the cargo we general into the global market of shipping.
Shipping Development is one of the institutional functions of the Agency, therefore he should immediately consider to establish a comprehensive ‘National Strategic Plan for Shipping Development’ NSPSD. He should include in the plan the role of the ministerial committee on fleet development as well as all other relevant entities including the performance indices and corrective measures of all the usual elements of a strategic plan. When it is done and certified by his management he should subject the document to a technical critic workshop to produce the final National document for his implementation (Shipping Development Department Guidance).
A body in the plan shall be charged with the role of monitoring and periodic evaluation of the performance in accordance with the provisions of the document.
I hope my beginning of the year comments as requested by you will meet your expectations. Please accept the consideration of my esteem regards.
Olu Akinsoji, is a Marine Engineer and Pioneer Alternate Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), London.
He was Director General, Government Inspector of Ships.