Shipping: Obasanjo laments low returns on $2bn investment

Godfrey Bivbere

17 March 2013, Lagos – Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed concern over poor returns accruing from about $2 billion invested by local operators in the shipping industry.

Obasanjo, who expressed his displeasure at the ongoing NIMAREX EXPO taking place in Lagos, said that there is need for government to address the factors hindering such investors from getting commensurate returns from on their investments.

He also wondered why the Cabotage law enacted some years ago has not helped local shipping operators, saying that there is need for a process of implementation of the law to be included.

He explained that the Cabotage Act is a frame work to restrict shipping operations in the nation’s waterways to local ship-owners.

Obasanjo noted that though it is regretful that past efforts to improve the sector has not been successful, it is important that measures are put in place to achieve these objectives.

He pointed out that since import/export business is reliant on sea transportation coupled with the fact that the country enjoys 65 percent cargoes coming to West Africa, it is imperative that the clearing process of goods at the nation’s ports are simplified.

Similarly, he stressed the need for local ship-owners to be involved in the carriage of the country’s sea bound trade. According to him, Nigeria generates about 70 percent of cargo throughput in West and Central Africa region and therefore concrete efforts most be made to have full advantage of the volume.

He explained that unless efforts are made to bring down the cost of clearing goods from the nation’s ports and clearing time reduced, shippers’ will stop using the nation’s ports while neighbouring countries would benefit from Nigeria’s seeming lack of preparedness.

He observed that the domination of the nation’s shipping business has resulted in loss of billions in freight.

He concluded that the Federal Government and literal states must work together and put measures in place to solve the problem of piracy in the nation’s waterways.

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