Experts advise Tinubu to remove bottlenecks in the maritime ecosystem and put an end to continuous borrowing.

admin October 29, 2023
Updated 2023/10/29 at 7:28 PM

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has the potential to alleviate the current financial crisis gripping the country by addressing the shortcomings in the nation’s seaports and revitalizing the trade gateways. According to investigations conducted by The Guardian, the infrastructure and operations at the seaports are severely lacking, hindering the efforts to revive the struggling economy.

The Federal Government’s plan to borrow N26.42 trillion between 2024 and 2026 as outlined in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) has raised concerns among economic experts.

They argue that instead of relying on continuous borrowing, the country should focus on implementing sustainable strategies for wealth creation, ultimately strengthening the economy and improving the standard of living for its citizens.

According to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), if a national fleet of vessels is established in Nigeria, it is projected to generate an annual freight revenue of more than $9.1 billion (equivalent to approximately N7.2 trillion).

In addition, the former Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed that the Lekki Deep Sea Port is expected to contribute revenue exceeding $201 billion (equivalent to about N160.8 trillion) over the span of 45 years.

Meanwhile, despite their deteriorating conditions, the existing seaports – Lagos Port Complex, Tin Can Island Port, Calabar Port, Delta Port, Rivers Port at Port Harcourt, and Onne Port – collectively generated N361 billion in revenue for the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) alone last year.

Experts predict that if the standard operating environment is improved, the Nigeria Customs Service could double its projected revenue of N3.6 trillion this year. Furthermore, it has been estimated that the maritime industry alone has the potential to generate approximately $100 billion yearly (equivalent to N80 trillion) for the government.

Eugene Nweke, an industry expert and former president of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), emphasized the urgent need for intervention in the industry to enhance its contribution to the economy.

Nweke highlighted the high losses and exorbitant shipping costs as major issues in the shipping sector. He stated that the industry lacks the necessary capacity for seamless operations, leading to numerous complaints within the sector.

He expressed his frustration with the poor transportation networks that result in high business costs at the ports and overall cost of goods and services.

Nweke also criticized the high charges from shipping companies and terminal handling, stating that they are not competitive compared to neighboring countries.

He called on the new Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Gboyega Oyetola, to focus on finding solutions to these problems and generating wealth from the blue economy.

Similarly, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwunmi Adeshina, emphasized the urgency for Nigeria to modernize and transform its ports in order to capitalize on business opportunities in the sub-region and Africa as a whole.

During a mid-term ministerial performance review retreat, Adeshina highlighted the importance of allowing the ports to facilitate business instead of solely focusing on revenue generation.

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