The Shippers Association of Lagos (SAL) has said that the maritime sector is critical for the economic growth of the country.
The president of SAL, Rev. Jonathan Nicole, made this know in an interview in Lagos on Monday.
Nicole added that for government to reap benefits from the sector, it must look into maritime problems and proffer lasting solutions to them.
He said if the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) could generate about N2 trillion, agencies like the Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in the maritime sector could equally generate huge sums.
“Looking at the income of Nigeria Customs Service, they were able to rake in N2 trillion, showing how dynamic Nigerian importers and shippers are.
“In spite of the enormous challenges, the revenue generated by the Customs remains on the rise. We commend the efforts of the trading community; they have done well.
“We feel that we should have been able to do more to support the government but the challenges are enormous. Sometimes, we wonder if the country cares, because the bills we pay are enormous.
“This is in spite of the fact that we try as much as we can to cooperate with government regulations and expectations,” he said.
Nicole pointed out that shippers also expect government to reciprocate their efforts, seeing as it has failed to provide palliatives for shippers over the years.
Nicole said shippers pay too many bills and where they spent N100,000, they now spend N200,000.
He also decried the slow pace of construction work ongoing at the West Minister end of the TinCan Island Road, noting that if care was not taken, the TinCan Island Port would be affected.
“The bad road makes our goods to fall off the trucks and this is a big challenge for shippers because the safety of their goods is not guaranteed.
“Insurance will say its a natural consequence because the roads are not part of what was insured,” he said.
On happenings in 2021, Nicole said that there were so many agitations with the shipping and terminal operators who increased their prices.
He also mentioned the scarcity of empty containers to bring in cargoes to the county, saying cargoes are currently trapped in China due to this development.
He said that the unfortunate thing was that there were over 10,000 containers idle in Nigeria which cannot be transported to Europe and China.
“Industries suffer more because of what most of their materials pass through before they are taken out of port and the erratic power supply leads to the dependency on generator and this required a lot of money.
“The pre-arrival assessment report (PAAR) system of customs is supposed to be an advisory document that has credibility; unfortunately, it is not effective,” he said.
Nicole urged government to fine-tune some of the processes in cargo clearance so that it would be a seamless system, according to agency reports. (NAN)