SIFAX Group boss, experts chart course for maritime sector’s growth

To achieve a greater level of growth in the country’s maritime sector, there is a need to devise a strategic framework that guarantees innovations and sustainable solutions that could address the problems in the industry.

This was the submission of experts at the fourth edition of the Taiwo Afolabi Annual Maritime (TAAM) Conference, which was held at the University of Lagos recently.

In his speech, Chief Kunle Folarin, chairman, Nigerian Ports Consultative Council, stated that, “Nigeria’s maritime domain consists of 932 nautical miles coastline, 12 nautical territorial waters, 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zones, international indigenous shipping average of 5307 vessel calls per year, 572 kilometer inland water ways, 16 functioning ports, eight littoral states, 28 concessioned terminals and thousands of workforce in the port and maritime industry.

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“These endowments give us the edge to become the leading light in Africa. Government and all stakeholders must set a deliberate agenda on how these endowments can be properly harnessed to sustain the growth already achieved in the maritime sector.

Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Group Executive vice chairman, SIFAX Group, which the conference was organised in his honour, said a strong implementation mechanism for various government policies and reforms was necessary to accelerate growth.

Afolabi, who was represented by Mr. Adekunle Oyinloye, Group Managing Director, SIFAX Group, said, “Nigeria’s maritime industry has overtime seen various policies such as the port concessioning reforms, truck standardization policies, cabotage law, maritime safety laws and several others with the sole aim of eliciting growth in the sector.

“But, may I say that while some of these policies have catapulted the industry to its next level growth, a strong implementation mechanism is strongly needed.

“I will like to appeal to the Federal Government to further fortify the nation’s coastal areas and maritime boundaries against maritime crimes. I will not fail to give kudos to NIMASA and other agencies for getting the presidency to assent to the anti-piracy bill recently. It should not just end here alone; there should be a campaign for more funding for maritime security.”

The panelists at the conference included Princess Vicky Haastrup, Executive Vice Chairman, ENL Consortium and Chairman, STOAN; Prince Olayiwola Shittu, immediate past President, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agent; Adetola Bucknor-Taiwo, Partner, Paul Usoro and Co and Mrs. Rollens McFoy, Executive Director, Operations, Oceandeep Services all unanimously agreed that there is a need to review some of the existing laws and promote on all fronts local participation in the sector.

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