Stakeholders have decried the state of Nigerian seaports, saying they are largely underdeveloped, poorly ranked among their peers in the West Africa sub-region, and undermining the ease of doing business.
According to the stakeholders, Nigerian seaports remain at the potential level despite their impacts on other value-chains of the economy.
Speaking at the virtual inauguration of the maritime group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), yesterday, the President of the Chamber, Toki Mabogunje, stated that no economy can be competitive in the international trade circle without an efficient maritime sector.
She added that over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s imports and exports to the rest of the world are conveyed via sea, underscoring the strategic importance of maritime to domestic and global trade.
She said that the several challenges bordering on delays in import and export processes, heavy human and vehicular congestion around the ports, policy, and regulatory inconsistencies, infrastructure and logistic constraints, security concerns, and incidence of corruption and infractions among regulatory agencies at the ports. Others, she listed are a complication in the ease of doing business at the port environment with gross implications for investment promotion and difficulty in accessing the ports.
She noted that the group was created to increase LCCI’s advocacy in the maritime sector by ensuring full automation of cargo clearance processes, resolving arbitrariness of import valuation by customs officials, finding a lasting solution to the persistent gridlock in the Apapa corridor, and holistic review of the operational activities of security agencies.
LCCI Vice-President and Chairperson, membership committee, Mojisola Bakare, reiterated the need for an efficient maritime system, especially instead of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Former Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Adebayo Sarumi, urged for increased advocacy to ensure that the government listens more to the private sector and ensures that port reforms contain contributions of the private sector.
“The ports serve the private sector and the private sector cannot ignore what is happening there. The level of services rendered cannot be ignored. Aspects of shipping logistics need to be taken advantage of by the private sector, especially in the area of warehousing, truck spare parts among others”, he added.
Secretary-General, African Shipowners Association, Funmilayo Folorunsho, argued that Nigeria needs to ensure its best participation in the AfCFTA, adding that the number of Nigerians in the business and the quality of their vessels is high.