01 November 2018, Sweetcrude, Lagos — Nigeria lost $8.6 billion in imports and exports freight opportunities of dry and wet cargos in 2017, according to the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC.
The country also lost a total $25 billion to foreign ship owners between 2015 and 2017, the council further stated.
Executive Secretary of the Shippers Council, Mr Hassan Bello, revealed this when the Nigerian Fleet Implementation Committee paid a visit to the Minister of Budget and Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, in Abuja.
Giving a year-by-year account of the freight opportunity losses in the last three years, Bello said over $9.08 was paid by Nigeria as freight for dry and wet cargos to foreign ship owners in 2015 due to the absence of Nigerian-owned fleet plying the international route.
He stated that the trend continued in 2016 and 2017, maintaining that over $7.55 billion has been estimated as freight opportunity loss to freight for dry and wet cargos in 2016 while the loss in 2017 amounted to $8.60 billion.
The NSC boss informed the Budget and Planning Minister that the Federal Government had shown concern about the development, leading to the establishment of a committee to address the matter.
“As a result of this the Federal Ministry of Transportation through the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, set up a committee for the Nigerian fleet implementation,“ he said.
He disclosed that the committee was charged with examining the possibility of using existing shipping companies to run a Nigerian fleet and provide guidelines on procedures of establishing a shipping company.
Bello explained that the Federal Government must put in place a conducive environment backed by strong political will with incentives to operators, if it must realise its programme in this regard.
He said that the Ministry of Budget and Planning played an important role in fiscal policy direction of government and it is necessary for it to be aware of the development.
The minister pledged that his ministry would collaborate with relevant agencies to resolve the issues and support the committee fully.
He said: “We will work with the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Trade as well as the Ministry of Finance to try and ensure that we address those issues; it is important that your work succeed.
“It is very important because firstly, there is need for this country to generate more revenue; there is the need to see if we can expand the Nigeria fleet, the work and the cargos that they carry.
“We will be saving ourselves foreign exchange and we would be able to generate funds in foreign exchange as well. So it is very important to create an expansion for Nigerian fleet.
“We would also be creating jobs for Nigerians. When we expand the fleet we would also be expanding our transport infrastructure; you can be sure of our strong active support from this ministry”.