- Freight agents lament Customs server inefficiencies
As part of efforts to maximize the nation’s marine resources, experts have identified fisheries, energy generation and maritime tourism as critical areas to transform the Nigerian blue economy.
These proposals were given at the silver jubilee of the League of Maritime Editors in Lagos, on Thursday, even as shipping experts underscored a need for the Marine and Blue Economy Ministry to partner with the Ministries of Agriculture, Power, and Tourism.
Speaking at the event, the Chief Executive Officer, Kamany Marine Services, Dr. Charles Okorefe, noted that there is a projection of over 100 million jobs through the nation’s blue economy in about 30 years.
Okorefe, who is also a lecturer at the Nigerian Maritime University (NMU), Okerenkoko, stressed that a lot could be harnessed through the nation’s marine system and the blue economy.
His words: “Nigeria has been a maritime nation for a very long time. We have been running our port systems beginning from when the Port-Harcourt port was established in 1912 and the Apapa port in 1924. Up till now, we have had several ports doting the landscape of Nigeria where import and export trades take place. But the blue economy is deeper than that.”
“We are talking about things like biodiversity, ocean exploration, deep sea mining, cable line activities, maritime tourism. These are things that are absent in Nigeria. If you go to some other parts of the world, a small country like Gambia, for instance, marine tourism is the main source of their national income. But in Nigeria, we are still very far behind. In Marine tourism, if you go to the Caribbeans, their major source of income is marine tourism. People flock the Bahamas, they flock Curacao and all of those small island nations who have nothing else but the marine environment bringing in billions of dollars.”
While tipping the marine sector to address the power generation issues via renewable energy and food security needs through fisheries, Okorefe encouraged the supervisory ministry to explore partnerships with other related ministries to gainfully exploit ocean and marine resources.
“The Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy has a lot of work to do. The parastatals under that Ministry have to be on their toes to be able to key into the vision of this blue economy concept because a lot is on ground for offer. The faster we get our acts right by bringing together those that can drive the vision of that Ministry, the better it will be for Nigeria,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola CON, described the theme for League’s Silver Jubilee Anniversary: ‘Harnessing Nigeria’s Potential in Marine & Blue Economy/The New Customs 2023 Act And its implication on Trade’ as apt to examine the contributions of the marine sector to trade, commercial development and national economic growth.
Oyetola, who was represented the Ministry’s Director, Press and Public Relations, Olujimi Oyetomi, asserted that the Ministry has set up machinery and structures for the sector and made all principal actors and agencies key into realizing the potential of the sector for job creation, social development, increased contributions to economic development.
“I have given my commitment to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR and the nation, that the Marine and Blue Economy Sector will witness a rapid transformation within the shortest possible time. I must admit that my Ministry has been enjoying a symbiotic relationship with the Maritime Editors with agenda-setting for the maritime sector where the Ministry is the leading policy-making body. I wish to add that most of the suggestions of the Maritime Editors were received in good faith by the management of the Ministry,” the Minister said.
He assured that the partnership between the League of Maritime Editors and the Ministry will always be cherished and nurtured to an all-time high as much as resources and other policy determinants will allow.
Also speaking, the President of the Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, attributed some of the challenges faced by operators at Nigerian ports to neglect by the Federal Government.
Ogunojemite revealed that for more than one week, cargoes could not exit the port due to epileptic server of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
He lamented that importers and freight forwarders are made to pay huge demurrage for the inadequacies of the government through its technical partners; Webb Fontaine.
“For over a week, freight agents have been having issues due to server failure at the port attributable to the incompetence of Webb Fontaine, the Customs IT service provider. When the problem is fixed, will there be a compensatory arrangement or waivers for the rent period at terminals?” the APFFLON President queried.