Stakeholders in the maritime industry have expressed displeasure over the loss of about $9.1 billion (about N3.5 trillion) to foreign shipping lines due to the inability of the country to transport its own cargoes with its own vessels.
The stakeholders who spoke at a one-day virtual symposium held with the theme, “Establishment of a Nigerian Global Trading Fleet’, which was organised to mark the 70th birthday of the Chairman, Starzs Investment Company and Starzs Marine and Engineering Company Mr. Greg Ogbeifun.
Ogbeifun noted that due to the absence of a national carrier, Nigeria is losing trillions of naira to foreign ships.
The Executive Secretary/Ceo of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, said the country paid $9.1 billion as freight to foreign carriers in 2015.
He said capacity must be “deliberately created” by the government to give Nigerians the opportunity to lift the nation’s cargo.
Bello, who is also the Chairman of the National Fleet Implementation Committee set up by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, said while efforts were being made to make a Nigerian national fleet a reality, the project must be private sector-driven to ensure its suitability.
According to Bello, “my committee was under pressure to bring anything that we will call a national fleet but it has to be sustainable. We don’t want a national fleet that will be here today and tomorrow it is gone. There must be removal of clog in the wheel of progress; these are fiscal and legal issues.
“The national fleet must be private sector driven but the government must come and provide the right environment. If it is private sector driven, then we expect to see sanity.
Nigeria is the only oil producing country in the world to adopt Free On Board, maybe because of the risk but the oil is going down. People say we don’t have capacity but what we lack is not capacity but opportunity.
“In 2015, Nigeria paid $9.1 billion as freight, thus local capacity must be deliberately created and efforts made to make the creation of a national carrier a reality.”