By Oluyinka Onigbinde
The 2018 Budget capital allocation to Transportation is N263.10 billion. This proposed budget is encouraging especially if properly and religiously utilized.
Evidence has shown that industrialization goes with well-developed rail system, priority attention should therefore be given to the development of rail infrastructure in the coming year.
There is also the need for the development of inland waterways and the various ports across the country. Dredging of the various ports outside Wharf and Tincan in Lagos State would diffuse the over-floating activities in these Lagos ports and lower the cost of moving goods from ports to the factories especially the manufacturers
In 2017 users and operators at the Nigerian ports faced some major challenges and bottlenecks namely, deplorable state of roads leading to the Lagos Ports – Apapa and Tincan Island Ports, infrastructure and technology breakdown; while we acknowledge the ongoing collaboration between some private firms and government to fix the port roads there is need for urgent palliative measures to enhance movement of traffic in this axis.
Poor access to the ports due to bad state of the roads and absence of functional rail had multifarious effects on the private sector, economy and the citizens. Some of these effects are as follows:
Risk to the lives of citizens arising from containers falling off the trucks as a result of bad roads. Several lives have been lost in recent past as a result of this.
Congestion at the Ports resulting from the delay in the evacuation of cargo from the Ports.
High demurrage paid by importers to Terminal Operators and shipping companies as a result of delay in the clearance and evacuation of cargo in the Ports.
High cost of transportation for evacuating cargo because of the prolonged engagement of the trucks by importers arising from the delays.
Traffic congestion along the roads leading to the Ports, which often spills over into the Lagos Metropolis causing severe traffic jam and loss of man hours in Lagos.
Delays in getting raw materials and other inputs from the Ports to the factory premises in Lagos and other parts of the country.
Estimates from LCCI research on “Maritime Ports Reform” show that hundreds of billions of naira are lost annually due to inefficiencies and inherent shortcomings in the nation’s ports. To achieve the much-needed efficiency and productivity in the Nigerian Maritime Ports the following reforms and policy measures are essential:
Adopt and enforce an Integrated Advance Cargo and Customs clearance system, with scanning, and tracking (SST) capabilities.
Implement the National Trade Data Centre project that is readily accessible to all agencies, operators and stakeholders at all times and everywhere to eliminate inherent abuses
Full Implementation of a Single Window Platform. This is the most vital reform measure with potential to create immediate cross-cutting positive impact in the port.
Expand Private Sector Investment, building and management of ports infrastructure such as roads, rail and truck parks with online call-up systems.
Enforce the Presidential Order that reduced the number of public sector Agencies/Departments from 14 to 6 at the ports
Shipping companies to establish adequate holding bay for empty containers.
In line with the findings of LCCI research, it is believed that the port can double its 2016 non-oil volume of 1.1 million TEUs over the period 2018-2019 if the above reform measures are implemented. This has a potential of creating new 10,000 jobs within the port sector and lead to approximately 800,000 additional jobs in the industry over the same period.
In a similar vein, Stakeholders in the maritime sector have called on the Federal Government to embark on reforms that will yield better outcome for businesses in 2018.
In a chat with Director of Research and Advocacy Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry Dr. Vincent Nwani he said implementation of maritime reforms that help attract more investors in 2018.
According to him “to have a better 2018 the government should embark on reforms that will yield better outcome in 2018
“Reforms such as opening up the economy, so as to allow private sector to play critical role in provision and maintenance of key infrastructures.
“Those policies that will encourage private sectors to bring in their money not just to invest in stock market or treasury bills or government bond, but policies that will encourage private investors to invest in some critical things such as maintaining roads, investing in power and so on.
“Just as we are talking about fuel scarcity for example, we know the impact that this fuel scarcity has had on family, household and business across the country, this is not the type of things that encourage private business and the government should work on this in year 2018.
Also speaking with our correspondent a foremost Master Mariner, Capt. Tajudeen Alao said Nigeria should be able to have its equity in the share of the cargo it generates to the world, it should be able to issue this year, certificate of competency for chief engineers and captains of ocean going ships so that Nigeria will be able to have credible certification of seafarers. Building of cabotage vessels, evacuation of cargoes from seaports via rails and by water batches should be a focus to be considered.
I also expect that Nigeria will be able to establish a clear assurance for the security of international cargo ships as against the security risk associated with militancy.
Tunji Owoeye a maritime expert in his opinion said government should set laws and develop the will to develop those regulations.
According to him “there is need for professionalism in the port, the need for compliance, people need to respect the rules of engagement and laws guiding illegalities.
“This is how to get a good society because laws are made to be obeyed and not the contrary. My expectation for this year is that people should do their best to respect the laws of the country and the government should develop the will to develop those regulations.”he said.