Home / COMMENTARY / NIGERIA AT 55 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE : SPOT LIGHT ON  THE MARITIME SECTOR – Nweke

NIGERIA AT 55 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE : SPOT LIGHT ON  THE MARITIME SECTOR – Nweke

NIGERIA AT 55 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE : SPOT LIGHT ON  THE MARITIME SECTOR - Nweke

Dr Eugene Nweke

There is no gain over emphasizing the fact that the Maritime Industries ( playing host to other critical sub industries) is the Major Revenue Generation Sector of the Economy and the Fulcrum drive to Socio-Economic development of a Nation.
Measuring how well the Sector has faired in its 55 Anniversary can not be properly placed on a rights perspective, excerpt by evolving a measurable transparent performance indicators or developmental indices in relation to the volume of investment, inputs and out puts thereof, which shall include but not limited to:
1. TRADE GROWTH:
a). Export/Revenue Performance:  A MAJOR MAIN STAY of the Economy Pre Concession, but suffered serious drift on account of Ineffective administration at the Central. Today struggling to find its rights of place, excerpt for crude oil export.
b). Import/Revenue Performance: Following the Collapse of export related activities, Import business took a center stage. Though RAPID GROWTH is recorded, but hampering on both our Balance Of Trade or Foreign Exchange Reserve, as labour /wealth are indirectly transferred to Country of Manufacture.
c). Vessel Calls/Throughputs: Compared to Pre Concession, REMARKABLE MILES HAS BEEN ACHIEVED, different ships, in their sizes, volume, types call to our ports with ease.
d). Presence of Shipping Lines /Agencies: Pre concession, Major Shipping lines had its agents on ground, but today most of the  Major Shipping
Line has its full physical presence on ground.
2. TRANSPORT  INFRASTRUCTURAL & COMPLEMENTARY  DEVELOPMENT:-
a). Ports Infrastructures: Compared to Pre Concession REASONABLE PROGRESS HAS BEEN ACHIEVED.
b). Ship Yards /Repairs Infrastructures: Compared to Pre Concession era, there seems to be a POLICY MISDIRECTION.
c). ShipBuilding/Acquisitions/National Fleets: Compared to Pre Concession era, Started and Faired well then, but along the Line suffered serious POLICY MISCALCULATION AND INCONSISTENCY, ALSO A VICTIM OF CORRUPTION AND MALADMINISTRATION.
d). Sub Industries/Sub-Sector Development:
i. Freight Forwarding &Logistics Sector:THOUGH WITH MUCH NEGLECT, BUT SELF SUSTAINING AND HAS
ii. Manufacturing/Processing/Export Sector: FAILED POWER SECTOR HELPED TO EPILEPTIC OUT PUTS. ALSO A VICTIM OF POLICY INCONSISTENCY.
iii. Steel Sector: A VICTIM OF CORRUPTION AND POLICY INCONSISTENCY.
iv. Auto Sector: A VICTIM OF POLICY SUMMERSAULT.
v. Dockworkers /Cadets/SeaFarers Sector: APPRECIABLE MILES RECORDED ON THE PATH OF DOCK WORKERS, but for the Cadet / Seafarers, while the human resources are available, the essential facilities are lacking in line with efficient training.
vi. Insurance Sector: IT’S RELEVANCE AND PATRONAGE IS NOT EVEN, YET.
e). Navigation’s, Dredging and Drought: Compared to Pre Concession era, REMARKABLE MILES has been achieved, at least Berths can boost of 9ft to 13ft drought. Channels are constantly monitored, NPA deserves a THUMB UP.
f). Cargo Handling Facilities: REASONABLE IMPROVEMENT noted when Compared to Pre Concession era of the NPA’s grave yard of cargo handling equipment.
g).  Coastal (in land) Transportation: TO DATE IT’S IMPACT Still Slow and does not meet a pass mark.
h). Inter Port Rail and Road Networking: AT INCEPTION it was commendable but went into a Comasto State in the early 90’s.
I). Green Ports  Development:  NO CONCRETE PLANS TO EVOLVE Further a Green Port Development, as Investor are mostly interested in the Brown Ports (Straight Jacket Investment) concession/Privatization. However, the global trend and quest for the development of Deep SeaPorts to meet the global emergence of Marco-polo Vessels, recently prompted an efforts being channelled towards the development of Ibaka , Lekki, Onukola and Badagary Deep Sea Ports.
j). Outer Ports/Container Freight Stations/Container Yards/Inland Depot:
k). Ports Access Roads:
3. MARITIME DOMAIN /TERRITORIAL SURVEILLANCE/ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES:
a). Illegal  Bunkering Activities: 18 Years after independence, following the oil boom of 1978/79, Illegal bunkering thrives and became  ALMOST AN UNSTOPPABLE VENTURE BY CABALS, not until 2014 to date we noticed serious Attempt to curb the menace. This Activities is a major promoter of sea Piracy and siphoning of accruable revenue.
b). Fishing Activities: Nigeria Fishing Industries Performed very well up to early 90’s but today gradually snowballing into a near state of emergency as foreign fishing trawlers seems to encroaching and almost  dominating our water within and few miles beyond the Economic Zone of 200 Nautical miles on the Sea.
c). Safety of the waters;  Piracy/ Policing Activities: As noted  in b above, there are quite a number of piracy threats and attacks, though the activities of Niger deltas militants attacks was pronounced down the line, if compare to global sea activities unrest, NIMASA still deserved a THUMB UP.
d). Inter-Agency Collaborations: These joint M.O.U / Partnership between the Navy, Custom, Police, NIMASA, etc paid off and deserves a THUMB UP notwithstanding noticeable lapses.

4. GOVERNMENT REFORMS:
a). Institutional Reforms: HIGHLY COMMENDABLE. Dock Labour reforms, Customs Modernization, Introduction of Servicom Charter, NPA Reforms, establishment of Freight Forwarders regulatory council, etc are among key several reforms of the government that injected and improve ports activities.
b).  Effectiveness of Public Enterprises:  Government from all indications is gradually offing its  hands from  Public Enterprise administration an admittance that it lacked the managerial know how in enterprise management. Thereby, quick to jump into Privatization/ Concessioning of its Public Enterprises, even itbhas created an agency for it, the Bureau for Public Enterprise – BPE.  The Truth is that no reasonable economic development can be attained over time when in a given monopolized private system, therefore, making a paradigm shift from public sector monopoly to private sector monopoly will do the economy no good, government must design a strong business involvement to stabilize and promote a healthy competition.
This is perhaps why, Great Britain concessioned 45% of its ports and manages 55 % as  public enterprise this is to pave way for efficiency, security and healthy competition.
India government emulated and did almost the same thing. South Africa, retained its Public enterprise posture only rebranded its port to Transnet Port  of SA, out sourced areas it’s lacked technical know how. Ghana retained 30% share having offered its Tema Port to two operators to form a Consortium with 70%, now known as “Mediterianian  Ports Strategy” -MPS.
In all Government must develop capacity to striking a balance between monopoly and Competition in its future Privatization/ Concession  Processes.
c).  Private Public Partnership Arrangements: THE TONE OF THE DAY, KUDOS TO GOVERNMENT but with RESERVATIONS.
d).  Legislative Roles; Amendments and Formulations  of Acts:  The NASS deserves a COMMENDATION I this regards. The NPA, NCS, SON, CABOTAGE Acts Amendment, etc The Local Content and NTC, PIB, among Several others that were  rush-idly  passed and some awaiting presidential veto’s. Looking into the future the Formulations processes should be fast-tracted to assist the sector timely.

5. CAPACITY BUILDING, HUMAN RESOURCE AND RESEARCH DEVELOPMENTS:
a). Training Institutions: ADEQUATE, but are poorly funded, thereby affecting out puts.
b). Maritime Libraries/ Research Institutions: ALMOST AT A STATE OF NEGLECT, as concerned Ministries and agencies lacks official vote in this respect.
c). Grade/ Certification/International Acceptance: NATIONALLY A PASS MARK will suffice but INTERNATIONALLY NO. This accounts for reasons why the Federal Government spent so much for foreign Training.
d). Maritime Enlightments and Sensitizations;  Conferences, Workshop, Seminars, Technical Committees, Organizational Retreats , International Exchange of Expertise, etc:  HIGHLY COMMENDABLE, as much has been achieved in this regards.

6. TERMINAL OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY:
a). Tariffs Structure: Fair Before Port Concession,
Presently Tariff are Inconsistence in structure and above industrial standard/averages. There is empirical pricing system.
b). Availability of Cargo Handling Equipments: Compare to what obtains before port concession and now, a deserving pass mark will suffice, but with consideration to trade growth and throughputs, much is seriously desires, as delays occasion by in adequate corresponding handling Equipments to match throughputs is increasingly creeping into days.
c). Terminal efficiency/Yard Spacing/ Automation: There is improvement looking at where and what it was before port concession in 2006. Full  integrations and automations of all transaction process to the extends that it reduces human contact to go and the evolution of on-lines e-transaction is still an issue with some Shipping and Terminal Operators. The Physical Presence & Time  spent at: Booking/ Commercial Halls, Securing Cargo Positioning/Scanning, Releasing, etc speaks volumes.
d). Bert Productions: Compared to Pre Concession, A PASS MARK will suffice, but when compared with neighboring Countries it is far BELOW PASS MARK.
e). Cargo Forecasting/Projections: A noticeable,  seemingly dearth in this important aspect of operations on the part of NPA, a Little BELOW PASS MARK on the part of Operators.
f). On Time Delivery/Business Friendly/Just in Time ( -JIT) Driven Terminals: Compared to Pre concession, A Fair Improvement. Post concession much is desired. It takes some Operators 3 to 7 days to Position a Container for Physical Examination or Scanning Operations, 2 to 4 days to Plans and effect Cargo delivery,  2 to 5 days to receive empty containers.
g). Turn Around Time of a Vessel: GREAT IMPROVEMENT recorded, So far, Compared to Pre Concession, ranked even within the sub- region.
h). Turn Around Time of Utility Trucks: Compare to Pre Concession, a Seemingly stereotype activities has been witnessed, due to a number of cogent reasons( dwell time of empty container on a truck, before it’s been discharged, no even and proximate empty container with holding bays, traffic gridlocks, etc). Though number of Trucks Fleets has drastically increased over time.
I). Efficient Common Users Roads: Compared to Pre Concession, with respect to development ,managing the tear and wear/palliative measures A PASS MARK will suffice.
j). Cargo dwell Time: Compared to Pre Concession, in some Ports  a noticeable SLIGHT DIFFERENCE from 21 days down to 18 days, in some Ports AVERAGE MARK, from 21 days down to 11 days, ABOVE AVERAGE in some Port, from 21 days down to 8 days. Though some factors are also responsible.
k). Cargo safety at the Port:  Compared to Pre Concession  ABOVE CREDIT MARK.
L). ISPCode Compliance: CREDIT MARK will suffice.
m). Port Health / Environmental Pollution: Compared to Pre Concession, A PASS MARK, but there is need for better improvement. Some Terminal Cargo Examination Bay is still very dusty during harmattan and flooded during rainy season. No effective control standards of carbon-monoxide emissions from cargo handling gears, even from trucks, etc.
7. NEED FOR A POST INDEPENDENCE POLICY CHANGE @ 55 VIA RE:ASSIGNMENT OF RESPONSIBILITIES OF MINISTRIES:-
With Special Emphasis to the noticeable Conflicting assigned Functions of the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing and Aviation, there will be need to revisit the records.  For instance,  on the  1st of February, 1966, the Transport, Works and Housing Ministries were charged with the following responsibilities for the Matters or Groups of Matters set out against their respective Ministries:
a). MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT RESPONSIBILITIES :-
<> Maritime Shipping and Navigation.
<> Navigation on National Inland Water Ways.
<> Navigation : Issue of Certificates of Competence;
>> Ports.
>> Railways.
<> Aviation: Certificate of aircraft and Personnel.
Authorization of scheduled flights Within and to and from Nigeria in accordance with the Air Transport (Licensing) Regulations 1958.
<> Policy on Aviation in general ; and provision of air safety services at Nigeria aerodromes,
<> Relations with the following bodies:-
>> Nigerian Ports Authority.
>> Nigerian Railway corporation.
>> Nigerian National Shipping Line.
>> Nigerian Airways.
>> Nigerian Civil Aviation Training Center
b). THE TWO ASSIGNED FUNCTIONS TO THE MINISTRY OF WORKS AND HOUSING THAT SHOULD BE TRANSFERRED TO THE MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT, A CALL FOR LEGISLATIVE AMENDMENTS:-
<> Development and Operation of National Trunk Roads including Regulations on Traffic on National Trunk Roads.
<> Roads Research.
Without Prejudice, therefore, there is urgent need to ensure that a robust Ministry of Transport that is all inclusive in its organizational  structure is repackaged, consisting of the following Directorates:
a). Directorate of Shipping Transportation, with a director general.
b). Directorate of Inland Waterway Transportation, with a Director general.
c). Directorate of Aviation Transportation, with a Director general.
d). Directorate of Road Transportation, with a Director general.
With this all the Director Generals reports to one Minister of Transport. Apart from saving administrative cost, it brings the Four Transport mode under a seamless coordination and effective control, which will in the long run trigger the much expected intermodalism/Inter networking.

By Dr Eugene Nweke.   

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