By Seun Ibiyemi
As Nigeria is transitioning to a non-oil dependent economy, attention needs to be shifted towards other critical sectors, especially the maritime industry, so they can contribute substantially to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Speaking at the 5th edition of the Taiwo Afolabi Annual Maritime (TAAM) Conference held at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Chairman, SIFAX Group, said the dwindling oil revenue in recent years and the huge potentials locked in the maritime sector make it imperative for the Federal Government to show better commitment to the industry.
He said, “The cou ntry’s national budget, in the last few years, has been majorly funded without revenue from oil but from other sectors.
“The days of over-reliance on oil is behind us now and it’s time we focused on transitioning from an oil-dependent economy to non-oil reliance. The maritime sector, I can say without any fear of contradiction, will play a crucial role in this economic transitioning if more attention is committed to the industry.”
Despite the growth that the industry has witnessed in the recent years including development and approval of various deep-sea ports, springing up of inland container depots across the country, linking seaports with rail lines, among others, Afolabi further noted that the sector is still facing with major problems which are slowing down its growth and impact.
He said, “It is without doubt that the maritime industry in Nigeria is grappling with various issues including infrastructural deficit, foreign exchange bottleneck, insecurity on our waterways, low level of technology adoption and deployment as well as inconsistent policies, among others.
“These issues have largely limited the ability of the sector to contribute significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). If well harnessed, the maritime industry has the potential to become a major revenue earner for the country, particularly with the declining oil revenue.”
The TAAM Conference is a maritime summit organised by the Maritime Forum of UNILAG’s Law Faculty in partnership with the SIFAX Group and serves as a platform where key maritime issues that border on the sector’s sustainable growth are discussed, while also stimulating the interests of university students in the industry.
The theme of this year’s conference is “The Maritime Roadmap Project: Making Nigeria A Leading Maritime Nation In The World.”
NPA warns against illegal stripping of containers along port access road
The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Mr. Mohammed Bello Koko, has issued a stern warning against the illegal stripping of containers along the port access road, this is even as he vowed that any trucker that is caught in the act risked being delisted from the eto platform controlled by the Truck Transit Park (TTP) Limited.
Koko stated this during a visit to the stripping yards at TinCan Port on Friday. While addressing concerns surrounding container stripping, he emphasized that stripping is a legal activity, but engaging in it illegally is what makes it an issue.
The NPA boss noted that one of the problems is the tendency for trucks to linger after stripping, causing traffic disruptions.
He said the NPA has been vigilant in monitoring and preventing such occurrences. This is just as he further revealed that in the past, stripping took place along roads until a ban was implemented, and collaboration with the Police was established, to seize such items and penalize those found stripping containers on roads.
Addressing the scarcity in some of the stripping yards, the Managing Director acknowledged the impact of economic challenges on cargo flow. Despite business downturns, he assured that trucks wouldn’t be allowed to park along roads for stripping activities. This is even as he revealed that proposals for well-equipped stripping yards, referred to as divining yards, have been received, signaling a potential shift from informal stripping.
When questioned about round-tripping, where trucks seek additional business after finishing stripping, the NPA boss explained the implementation of the Eto system to prevent such practices. He said trucks are required to leave the port area and find business in designated pre-gate areas or truck parks.
Regarding sustainability, he informed that the NPA has collaborated with other government agencies and the Lagos state government to ensure that nothing of such take place along the port access road.
The Managing Director also emphasised the need for regular supervision and disclosed that meetings are held regularly to ensure the effective operation of the Eto system.
In response to questions about penalties for illegal stripping, Koko outlined measures taken by the NPA about truckers engaging in stripping along roads. He said they face delisting from the Eto platform, preventing them from obtaining entry tickets.
He said NPA has also collaborated with other security agencies to stop delisted trucks from conducting business in the port.
He also warned that stripping yards that violate operational rules risk down temporarily, with the possibility of non-renewal of land leases for repeated offenses.
He noted that these stringent measures aim to maintain order and safety within the port environment.
PTML Terminal to receive biggest RoRo-container vessel in Africa
The PTML Terminal located at Tin Can Island Port in Lagos, has said it will receive the largest container-Roll-On-Roll-Off ship ever to visit the sub-region on November 27.
In a statement, the terminal operator said that the ship named, MV Great Lagos, is owned by the Grimaldi Group.
The statement added that the ship, which was launched in April, was a marvel of modern engineering and environmental consciousness, stretching 250 metres in length with a beam of 38 metres and a weight of over 45,000 tonnes.
The ship, according to the statement, can transport 4.7 kilometres of rolling freight, 2,500 car equivalent units, and 2,000 20-foot equivalent units.
Speaking on the ship, the Managing Director of PTML, Ascanio Russo, said, “MV Great Lagos is the second of the G5-class of ships recently launched by the Grimaldi Group and named after Nigeria’s commercial capital, which it has served for many decades. The vessel sets a new benchmark in the shipping industry,”
Russo commended the Nigerian Ports Authority for its support towards receiving the vessel.
He said the visit of MV Great Lagos to Lagos is a landmark event for Nigeria’s maritime sector and PTML.
Russo added that the visit showcased the terminal’s advanced capabilities and its role as a leading multipurpose logistics hub in the region.
According to him, the arrival of ‘Great Lagos’ at PTML is not just a routine port call, “it is a testament to the terminal’s cutting-edge facilities and its readiness to handle the new generation of mega-vessels. Its arrival at the Lagos Port is a testament to the port’s capability to handle vessels of such magnitude, further positioning Nigeria as a key player in the global shipping industry.
“What truly sets the ‘Great Lagos’ apart is its compliance with the highest environmental standards. In an age where environmental sustainability is not just a preference but also a necessity, the ship leads the way in eco-friendly maritime transport. Its advanced design and technology significantly reduce the environmental impact, aligning with global efforts to combat climate change and protect marine ecosystems,” Russo said.
He added that the terminal operator invested over $20 million to receive the ship, “By extending its Berth 11, equipping it with deeper berths, expanded storage areas, and acquired state-of-the-art cargo handling equipment.
“This transformation positions PTML as one of the most advanced logistics terminals in West Africa, capable of handling a diverse range of cargo types including bulk, break-bulk, containerised, and RORO cargoes,” he said.
He said, “The seamless integration of vessels and terminal activities at PTML is a clear indication of Nigeria’s dedication to advancing its maritime infrastructure while prioritising environmental responsibility.”
Roadmap: Oyetola meets Marine & Blue Economy stakeholders
…Says Indigenous ship owners will be supported
By Seun Ibiyemi
The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, CON, on Tuesday said the ministry is set to embrace the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models to transform the sector.
He was quick to add that the initiative will not in anyway impede the growth of local players but rather provide an avenue for them to create and extract more value from the sector, especially through ship construction, maintenance, and repairs.
The Minister made these disclosures at the ministry’s first Stakeholders’ Roundtable Engagement on Advancing Sustainable Development in Nigeria’s Marine and Blue Economy sector, held in Lagos.
According to the minister, the forum was convened to bring together players in the sector to discuss and chart a roadmap/direction that will advance the industry’s potential, promote sustainable Blue Economy investments and ensure global competitiveness within the sector.
He noted that the model, a collaborative synergy between the private sector’s efficiency and the public sector’s oversight, will bring about transformative impact on the marine and blue economy as well as boost the creation of substantial job opportunities and the facilitation of increased trade and investment in the nation, reinforcing the ministry’s collaborative and forward-looking approach.
Some areas of discussion at the Roundtable bothered on strengthening the Blue Governance; Transforming Port Operations; Enhancing Port Infrastructure; and Promoting Blue Economy Investments.
Oyetola said, “There is an urgent need for a collaborative effort to brainstorm and devise strategies to leverage our marine resources for the betterment of the economy and safety of our planet. It is imperative we come up with practicable ways of ensuring that our Inland Rivers, Lakes and Waterways are well utilised for cargo shipment and passenger transportation.
“This Engagement Forum is crucial to the development of the sector as it offers an opportunity for us all to collectively contribute our perspectives, ideas and offer relevant inputs that can propel the sector to the trajectory of success necessary to support the development of the economy as well as meet the expectations of Mr. President who took the courage to open up Nigeria to focus on the Blue Economy Value Chain.
“The zeal for a better life for Nigerians propelled President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR to recently unveil 8 Presidential Priorities to address critical national challenges. These priorities are to be delivered through 8 focus areas, namely: economic growth, food security, energy and natural resources, infrastructure development, security, healthcare, education, improved governance, and job creation.
“Our Ministry though new, is not resting on its oars and has continued to foster Inter-Agency collaborations and implement initiatives to promote Port efficiency, cargo shipment, maritime security and tap into the resources of the Seabed.
“The ministry’s decision to consider the re-establishment of a National Shipping Line, through a strategic PPP arrangement, is borne out of our desire to capture a substantial share of the estimated $10 billion annual ship charter market within the country.
“This initiative will not seek to impede the growth of local players but rather to provide an avenue for them to create and extract more value from the sector, especially through ship construction, maintenance, and repairs. This would enable our local businesses to better leverage the Carbotage Act, which gives Nigerians the exclusive right to control locally generated seaborne trade.
“Other anticipated outcomes include the creation of substantial job opportunities and the facilitation of increased trade and investment in the nation, reinforcing our collaborative and forward-looking approach”.
The Minister who said he is acquainted with the sector’s challenges, assured of his commitment to “bequeathing to Nigerians a better sector than we have met today”.
He assured that the Stakeholders’ Engagement will be a continuum, “since it is important that we normalise this harmonious synergy and work together to ensure that our industry is safe, reliable and sustainable”, Oyetola concluded.
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