Vessels at Port
Operations in Nigerian ports are said to have fallen behind in West Africa, when compared to others in the region. This was attributed to the other cities in the sub-region, which use more efficient systems of clearing goods in their ports.
It was in a bid to address the ills plaguing the Nigerian ports that the Federal Government, during Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, initiated economic reforms that led to the handover of the nation’s seaports to concessionaires in 2006. Nevertheless, the ills that have hampered the efficient clearance of goods in the nation’s seaports are yet to abate.
An economist, Mr. Eghes Eyieyen, in a broadcast monitored by THISDAY in Lagos, expressed dismay over the corruption that has eaten deep into the maritime sector of the economy. Eyieyen argued that it was corruption that has made operations in the nation’s seaports to be inefficient vis-à-vis other ports situated in the West African sub-region.
According to him, “the internal squabbles for power are more important to Nigerians than efficient customers’ service. The crisis for freight forwarding in the country continues. Freight forwarders are responsible for clearing of goods in Nigeria and are not doing themselves or the nation’s image any proud.”
He condemned the act of piracy and oil theft in Nigerian territorial waters, and noted that piracy and oil theft have retarded the economy, which has in turn slowed down business in the nation’s seaports.
He said the maritime sector of the economy which is considered the second highest revenue earner into the central till, was not given the desired attention over the years, and maintained that those in authority only give scant attention to the issues that are germane to the actualisation of the huge potentials in the maritime sector of the economy.
According to the economist, “in some cases, those at the helm of affairs do not consider it necessary to give it attention at all. This has helped in retarding the sustainable growth of the sector over the years.”
Continuing, Eyieyen said: “The maritime sector of the economy needs urgent attention to catapult it to the desired height; a height Nigeria earnestly needs to break the jinx of her dependence and reliance on crude oil and gas for the sustenance of the economy. In fact, Nigeria needs to fully tap into the maritime sector by maximising its enormous potentials. This is due to the fact that if the sector is fully tapped, Nigeria will not find it difficult and cumbersome to break away from its present status as a country which has a mono-product economy”.
The economist stated that despite the various efforts made by the government to improve the maritime sector, a lot still needs to be put in place for the Nigerian port operations to be efficient, especially in the prompt clearance of cargoes among other West African countries.