Group blames sector’s challenges on inconsistent policies



THE Shipping Association of Nigeria has identified policy summersault as one of the challenges confronting stakeholders in the maritime sector.

Speaking in Lagos on Monday, chairman of the group, Val Usifoh said the development is partially responsible for the decline in the volume of import into the country.

He explained that the Federal Government policy on rice, automotive policy and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Foreign Exchange (FOREX) restriction on certain product make it difficult for stakeholders to plan ahead.

He said: “People need to plan ahead. Business should be predictable so that when you are making investment, medium or long term, you are sure of where you are going. Importation is on the low ebb, business is down for everybody and if it is down for the importer it is down for the ship owner. It is a global trend but we are feeling it more because we are import dependent in the economy. When people cannot predict where to move their investment, it will be difficult to programme”.

He added: “Before the auto policy came into effect, 80 percent of the Tokunbo (used) cars were coming to Nigeria and 20 percent go to Cotonue (Benin Republic) and all the second hand trucks were coming through Nigeria but after this policy, over half of the second hand vehicle business is going to Cotonue. The implication is that Nigeria ports have lost 50 percent of its second hand vehicle trade.”
He also used the opportunity to advise the Federal Government to develop local industries as part of measures to boost enough supply before placing restrictions on certain imports.

Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Habib Abdullahi has maintained that Nigerian ports are now effective and efficient in cargo handling with improved ports operations.

Abdullahi, who was represented by Executive Director Marine and Operations, David Omonibeke, an engineer, while receiving a delegation of the United Parcel Service (UPS) who paid him a courtesy visit said the port system has impromed tremendously.
The Managing Director disclosed that the Federal Government has approved the establishment of deep/dry seaports in some part of the country in order to increase the facilities provided by the Authority.

He explained that the Federal Government has put up rail system to ease the movement of cargo from the Ports.
A press statement quoted the Managing Director as saying there are only seven agencies that are approved by the Federal Government to carry out examination of goods “while others may be invited by the Nigerian Customs if the need arise”.

He also commended the terminal operators for the acquisition of the state of the art equipment “that has eased Ports operations in Nigeria”.

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