07 March 2015, Lagos – The shipping sector has the capacity to create over 80,000 jobs annually if the huge potential in the maritime industry are fully harnessed by the federal government, a maritime expert, Chief Kunle Folarin has said.
Folarin, who is Chairman, Ports Consultative Council (PCC), explained that trans-shipment in Nigerian ports alone can create employment opportunities to absorb thousands of Nigerian youths presently roaming the streets looking for non-existing jobs.
According to him, the cargo coming into Nigeria might not necessarily be meant for the country but could be for other landlocked countries such as Niger and Mali which decided to use Nigerian ports to import goods, noting that this can easily create jobs.
“We (Nigeria) provide the corridors to most of the landlocked countries and we provide the coastline. We can easily provide the shipping, the storage, the trans-shipment, and Nigeria will gain. From trans-shipment activity, we can provide employment for at least 80,000 Nigerians as truck drivers,” he said.
Citing examples of countries that have done well by harnessing the potential in their maritime industry, he argued that Philippines made great fortunes by earning huge income through the provision of seafarers to the world.
“We can still be relevant within the maritime industry even if we do not own ships. Philippines give seafarers to the world. They do not have oil and gas. They do not have strong shipping companies but they have over 400 maritime schools which train seafarers for the world. Nigeria can do the same with trans-shipment what Philippines were able to achieve through manpower provision for the maritime industry,” Folarin said.
Meanwhile, PCC has come up with a new agenda for maritime industry that would look into port reforms and local participation policies such as port concession and terminal shipping elements, as well as the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2003
According to him, the economic agenda will enable the ports’ regulatory authorities to promote investment opportunities in the maritime industry and improve human capacity building in seafaring.
He explained that the agenda will also look into foreign direct investment (FDI) policies and incentives in the maritime industry. He pointed out that ship building, ship repairs and allied industry opportunities should be paramount under privatisation and private sector participation in the maritime industry.
Folarin disclosed that in terms of demand, ship building and repair facilities, including dry docking facilities, would require additional 50 establishments, while ship and craft in the cabotage area should be over 4,000. Ship building and repairs, including dry docking facilities, are less than 10. For supply, Nigerian flagged vessels involved in ocean trading were less than 45, while Nigerian flagged ships and crafts in the cabotage area (coastal trade) were less than 50.
He described shippers as the movers of the Nigerian economy, adding that without the ports, there would be no ship and without the shippers, there would be no cargo.
– This Day