Singapore to develop business plan for Nigeria’s national shipping line

The Federal Government has mandated the Singaporean firm, Pacific International Line (PIL) to come up with a Business plan that will ensure the survival of the proposed new National Shipping Line. This is even as shippers and ship-owners have disagreed over the viability of the proposed new national shipping line.

Speaking over the weekend at the inaugural Taiwo Afolabi Annual Maritime Conference held in Lagos, a member of the entourage to Singapore and Managing Director, Ceo Starz Group, Engineer Greg Utomwen Ogbeifun explained that PIL will take 40 percent of the business venture while the remaining 60 percent will be taking over by Nigerians.

According to him, “The PIL will own 40 percent stake while Nigerian private sector players will own the remaining 60 percent stake. Under the MoU signed in Singapore, PIL has been mandated to develop a business case for this brilliant initiative.

“After PIL develops the business case, it will be presented to the Federal Government of Nigeria for review and subsequent adoption.

“The proposed shipping line will delve into Bulk, liquid and general Cargoes operations. So it will not be limited to one aspect of maritime business. We are also looking at future agricultural exports being done by this shipping line.”

Meanwhile, Shippers and Ship-Owners have expressed divergent opinions on the fate of the proposed national shipping line.

Also speaking at the conference, Chairman of the Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS), Rev. Jonathan Nicol expressed lack of confidence in a national shipping line due to somersaulting government policies.

In his words, “As Shippers, we provide cargoes for the ship-owners who own the ships. It is a sad story today because even the shipping lines don’t have any cargo to carry because unfavourable government policies have forced us to take our cargoes to neighbouring ports.

“As cargo provider, we bring in goods to make ends meet, but as I speak to you, government has banned importation of goods from the informal sector into Nigeria.”

“The informal sector accounts for 60 percent of our inbound cargoes.

“Last month, there were reports that 23 shipping line left Nigeria. Now we are talking of a national shipping line. What will the national shipping line carry? If we don’t protect our cargoes, then we are about to revisit the history of this country 10 to 20 years ago as regard what befell the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL).”

Disagreeing with Rev. Nicol, Chairman of the Ship-Owners Forum, Barrister (Mrs) Margaret Orakwusi bemoaned Nigeria’s dependence on importation. “I bet to disagree with the Shippers perspective because i don’t thing Nigeria should forever remain consumption for the Western world.

“We need to move away from this import dependent economy and start producing our own goods by harnessing our resources. We cannot forever remain an importation driven economy. If we harness our resources, Nigeria can generate her own cargoes.

“If we generate our own cargoes, then there will not be any issue on what the shipping lines will carry. We need to provide employment in this country,” Orakwusi remarked.