Experts seek overhaul of nation’s maritime sector
A SHIPPING and maritime policy expert, Dr. Chinedu Ogbuagu, has advised the in-coming federal government to overhaul the nation’s maritime sector, even as he called for the appointment of a technocrat for the transport and maritime sub-sectors.
He said that in other climes, the sector is superintended by experts who have experience to drive efficiency and add value to the sector.
Ogbuagu told The Guardian in an exclusive chat said for the sector to become a top revenue earner is the setting up of a National Marine Insurance Bureau, which he said should be properly backed by law to take charge of and collect insurance levies on all cargos of crude or gas leaving the shores of the country daily.
He said that once operational, the system would help check billions of dollars capital flight which Nigeria looses to foreign insurance companies who monopolize and specialize in marine insurance in the country. He added that it would also create new jobs and mark up the nation’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP) significantly.
According to him, although the global prize of crude had dropped, the insurance levy charged on each tonnage of crude oil landed ship remains very high and capable of boosting the economy.
He identified poor technical skills as a major factor why foreign nationals dominate and monopolize the marine insurance sector, adding that government needs to take deliberate steps to reverse the trend by ensuring emergence of nationalized marine insurance bureau. He said also that inability of local players to provide the huge financial backing to venture into marine insurance also plays a major role in the exclusion of Nigerians in the lucrative sector.
“In the international scene, we all know what is charged on insurance. It is usually in billions of dollars. So if your rates are ridiculously low, people don’t trust your commitment. In marine business, you don’t cut corners because you must meet up the obligations attached to the services you render. In most cases, the charges requested by Nigerian operators are so ridiculously low that any knowledgeable maritime investor can tell that those in the business have no genuine intentions of paying for damages in the event of mishap. They probably just want to do it to eke a living, not that they have proficiency in it.