In a bid to ensure Nigeria’s maritime industry positions itself for a more significant role in 2021, the Congregation of Registered Freight Forwarding Practitioners of Nigeria (CREFFPON) has identified pertinent areas for improvement to include; piracy, port access roads and electronic truck call-up system, barge operations, among others.
The group which comprises veteran freight forwarders made this known in a report disseminated this week as part of the new year greetings to all the maritime industry stakeholders.
Describing 2021 as an eventful one to most practitioners in the sector, the group noted that many issues are still begging for urgent attention in the industry and they should be addressed in the new year.
While commending the doggedness of NIMASA to combat piracy activities on the nation’s territorial waters which resulted in reduction in the sea crime, CREFFPON opined that the Deep Blue project should be communicated further to the stakeholders, especially, in the area of research and human capacity development, as enshrined in the AIM-Strategy content development.
The group recognized NPA’s commitment towards solving the Apapa traffic gridlock via e- truck call up system, but stressed that it still requires fine-tuning, adding that traffic has been diverted reasonably to the streets of surrounding cities.
CREFFPON, however, stated that NPA should be concerned about its port rating globally, especially in relation to port friendliness, costs and efficiency. The group also observed that some noticeable delays trailed the change in the leadership Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC) as the agency gradually lost its steam as the port economic regulator in 2021.
“Shipping companies, Terminal Operators, Customs and others are all declaring excess revenue cum profits, amidst low cargo throughputs. While congratulating them, it equally speaks volumes that something is wrong somewhere in their mode of operations.”
“The new services in the industry, the barges operations – while commending them for the interventionist services undertaken to remedy the port congestion, again we have to exercise caution on the need for a streamlined tariff system and efficiency concerns,” the group said.
On the CRFFN Governing Council election, CREFFPON expressed optimism that in the year 2022 the ministry will take a firm stand to conclude the electioneering process as freight forwarders cannot afford to stay divided by trivial issues.
“The Haulage sector of the freight forwarding profession requires an intervention. The present trucking system needs better reorganization, and CREFFPON shall be at the forefront to drive this objective in this year. The importance of transport logistics services can not be overstated, as it touches the lives of Nigerians significantly.”
“Above all, the cost of doing business in Nigerian ports are still very expensive. Today, ports within the region have positioned themselves to be transhipment hub and ready for prompt participation in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) regime. Already, there are reports of the diversion of the Nigerian bound imports to Lome, Cotonou, Cameroon, Ghana, etc. Their recent cargo throughputs increase is a confirmation to this development,” the group said.
Meanwhile, the group also faulted the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) forex policy to restrict access of forex to over 41 import items, lamenting that the move hasn’t impacted the nation and the trading public positively.