“Nigeria Operates Port System That Negates Growth”

“Nigeria Operates Port System That Negates Growth”

Oluchi Chibuzor

The President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLA), Mr. Lucky Amiwero has said the nation operates a port system that is negative to growth.

This, according to him is because the various charges and rates paid across ports in the country remain highest in the world as governments do not sell their port or concession it to private entities.

He maintained that the various government agencies in the maritime industry like, Nigeria Custom Service (NCS), Nigeria Port Authority (NPA), Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC) must begin to carried out their core mandates in line with the various laws establishing them in the country rather than been a revenue inclined agencies which continues to give neighbouring countries advantage in the industry.

Speaking to journalists in Lagos on the sideline of activities to mark his 68th birthday, the astute technocrat noted that Nigeria is fast losing its position in the industry to Cameroon, Benin, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire who are deliberately positioning themselves to take the advantage of the lack of favourable maritime business activities in the sub region.

Having helped to formulate maritime policies in the country while serving in about 168 government committees, Presidential panels, Emiwero regretted that due to political indifference, the country had abandoned various conventions it signed that ought to facilitate trade and secure global trade.

“In regulation, the economy and the nation’s interest is not taken into cognizance. If you look at the rates we are paying in the ports you do not pay that anywhere in the world. If you look at the days you spend in the ports you do not do that anywhere in the world. So you have a system that is negative to growth and a port system that is negative to growth.

“There is no regulation in Nigerian ports, nobody regulates; so the economic interest is not covered. It is the importers and agents that are paying the cost and if you look at the cost in Nigeria it is quite high and huge, everyday you see it goes up which is because of the kind of system we operate within the port, “he said.

Commenting on various government agencies like NPA, he advocates that the body should be restructured in line with the mandates to carry out maritime services, while noting that there are four elements in port structure and they have to do with regulation, port operations and land law.

“The land law takes care of marine; the regulation is supposed to be done by either NPA or the NSC. The government gave NSC but there is no law to prove this, so you have a port operation that is tilted to the terminal operators without the law but with a contract, which is actually not in line with the principle.
“So you must have a port that is tilted to the advantage of terminal operators and you do not concession a port without giving a regulation.

“Up till now two laws are missing, the one of NSC and the one of NPA and we are operating a lease agreement that is called concession. By NPA law they are called lease agreements and these are issues that we must look at and you cannot continue to run a port the way you are running it without a regulator, ”he said.

On NCS, he stressed the immediate need to reform the Nigerian Customs in order to revive the economy.
He added, “When Customs start to tell you about revenue then you should know you are in trouble. Revenue is never anything to talk about anywhere in the world and what they talk about is how do you facilitate trade and secure global trade.
“This is the real work and is not to talk about revenue in the conventions you have signed, if you look at the country, it is difficult for people to come in here because of our system.”
As AfCFTA continues to gather momentum, Emiwero reiterated the need for the country to have a sea port that takes back the nation’s cargo.

Related Articles