Nigeria loses $2.2bn to foreign ships annually —Ministerial committee

NIGERIA loses $2.2 billion annually to foreign ship owners and seafarers due to failure by the government to provide fleets that can adequately cater for the country’s sea transportation.

This was disclosed in Abuja by Mr Olu Akinsoji, Chairman, Ministerial Committee on the Modalities for the Establishment of a Nigerian Shipping Line.

Akinsoji, who led members of his committee to submit the team’s report to the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, on Tuesday, emphasised the need for the country to own its own fleets.

According him, “If 50 per cent of the over 5,000 ships that came to Nigeria in 2014 were Nigerian ships, crewed by Nigerians, say even 20 ships and the crew earning $3,000 per person, they would have earned $2.2 billion. This is beside the freight accruable by carrying Nigerian cargo.

“The human element, the seafarers, would have earned $2.2 billion. Imagine the benefits to their families and even to the government in taxes,” he wondered, adding “all the international cargo we generate is carried by foreign ship. We don’t have Nigerian ship in international waters carrying dry cargo.”

Responding, Amechi said “the report clearly provides three categories of maritime transportation areas where Nigeria can establish a shipping company (Nigerian fleet): wet cargo – crude, finished products, high and low pour premium fuel oils: dry cargo, general bulk, container, ro-ro, barge carrier and the coastal, off-shore support services and facilities, such as cable laying, workboats, tugs, house boat, FPSO, jack-ups among others.”

He revealed that the committee examined various structural scenario and made recommendations for three optional structures namely a large holding company with technical management for subsidiaries in all the areas of maritime transportation; an independent company in each of the identified areas of shipping and; for existing companies to organise themselves to form a Nigerian fleet company.

“I will give the committee the necessary instrument to implement the report.”