Given the dwindling oil revenue and receipts into the national coffers, the Federal Government has been urged to leverage on the economic potential of the maritime sector to grow the economy.
Hassan Bello, immediate past executive secretary/CEO of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), said this at the reception held in his honour by the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) in Lagos recently.
“Government should look towards the maritime industry for economic growth, particularly in the option of economy diversification,” said Bello who also called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend its economic recovery intervention to the maritime sector.
According to him, the CBN has intervened in Agriculture, Nollywood and other sectors, hence the call for intervention into the maritime sector to help revive the nation’s economy.
Bello further called on the Federal Government to handover port ownership and operations to the local government for efficient management, as a means of economic restructuring.
“The Federal Government cannot be burdened with ports; it should approve ownership of ports to the local government. All local governments and other tiers of government should own and manage their ports. We don’t need the Federal Government to own ports, except for some security issues and the regulations,” said Bello.
On port digitalisation, Bello said the NSC in collaboration with the terminal operators has achieved close to 100 percent of paperless transactions of all port processes.
According to him, having a 100 percent port digitalisation and port community system will block all revenue leakages, noting that there will be port efficiency and Nigeria will be the preferred destination for cargoes by shippers.
“We are getting to paperless port transactions. Most terminals are doing between 60 percent; in fact a terminal operator’s transaction is 100 percent paperless. In no time all transactions in the port must be automated, they must be done online, our ports must be digitalised,” he stated.
Increase Uche, the national president of NAGAFF, said the quality of shipping services, cargo clearance and documentation processes were largely improved during Bello’s tenure as CEO of the NSC.
Uche in presenting maritime stakeholders’ view of the former NSC executive secretary, lauded Bello’s initiative in implementing measures that curbed challenges faced by the industry and its players, especially during the outbreak of COVID-19.
He listed the measures to include abrogation of all forms of illegal and unapproved charges by the terminal operators and shipping companies; promotion of inter-agency relationship to ensure synergy and collaboration among them; protection of cargo and shippers investments through various interventions.