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Expert Seeks Review of Maritime Laws

21 Dec 2012

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John Iwori

The Federal Government has been urged to review the “obsolete maritime laws” in the nation’s Constitution of the country, to address the ills plaguing the maritime sector of the economy.
The call was made by the Chairman, Ports Consultative Council (PCC), Chief Kunle Folarin, while speaking at the maritime excellence awards organised by the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN) in Lagos.

Folarin said government must build a maritime industry that can be ranked among the best globally, in a bid to move the sector forward.

His words: “Legal instruments such as the Shipping Policy, Cabotage Act, National Inland Waterways Authority Act, Nigerian Shippers’ Council Act, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Act, and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Act should be reviewed”, he said.

He said in the pre and immediate colonial era, the maritime sector had been the anchor and arrowhead of all economic endeavours of government, stressing that the Nigerian maritime resource was an economic agenda.

Folarin said that Nigeria’s maritime resources were arguably the most potent and most dynamic of all other resources including oil, gas, minerals and agriculture.

“Mineral resources and other extractive industries, agricultural productions, both consumptive and cash crops have not presented any competition to the potential of the maritime sector. It could also be debated that the importance of the eventual contribution of the oil and gas industry to the economy cannot match that of the maritime industry,” Folarin said.

He also asked government to create a maritime development bank as done in other sectors, even as he noted: “industries have Bank of Industry; estate and housing also have their own banks. Why will the maritime sector of the economy not have a bank totally devoted to it?”

President of MARAN, Mr. Bolaji Akinola, in his welcome address at the occasion, said Nigerian ship owners were complaining more than ever before despite almost a decade of the cabotage regime. According to him, a good chunk of the vessels owned by local operators are sitting idle in the outer bar with no jobs to do.

He said many Nigerian ship owners were laying off their staff members, adding that those that were not laying off their staff were not paying salaries as at when due. The only concrete change that one has seen in the sector in ten years is the concession of terminal operation at the seaports, which has induced efficiency into port operation in the country.

“Even at that, cargo dwell time at our ports is still the highest in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.  According to him, “while condemning the proliferation and bastardisation of awards and the process of conferring most of them on recipients, let me assure that the MARAN awards are different.”

He said the association’s awards truly deserved the honour, adding that the awards were designed not only to acknowledge success but to recognise many other qualities including ability, struggle, efforts and excellence.

Some recipients of the awards include the APM Terminals Apapa as the Terminal Operator of the Year 2012; Comptroller General of Customs, Alhaji Dikko Abdullahi as the Maritime Man of the Year; Cotecna Destination Inspection Limited as the Best Service Provider; and Ports and Cargo as the Indigenous Terminal Operator of the Year.

Others are Mr. Boniface Aniebonam, Pioneer Freight Forwarder in Nigeria; and Prince Olayiwola Shittu, as the Best Customs Broker.

Image makers of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Chief Michael Kayode Ajayi; Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Ignatius Nweke, and Sifax Group, Mr. Oliver Omajuwa, were also honoured. MARAN former President, Mr. Ray Ugochukwu, also got a special recognition award for his commitment to the growth of the association over the years.

Tags: Business, Nigeria, Featured, Review, Maritime, Laws

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