A Maritime focus Group made up of stakeholders, facilitated by the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS) has called for more infrastructural facilities in the Eastern ports to attract good patronage.
They made the call in a communique made available on Friday in Lagos by the President, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS), Mr Andy Isichei, after a one-day Strategy Group meeting organised by the chamber.
According to the communique, the Eastern ports are currently experiencing sub-optimal utilisation and there is need to address this issue in the light of the current government’s policy drive on diversification of the Nigerian economy.
“The challenges of the Eastern ports reflect on the challenges of the Nigerian maritime sector as a whole.
“Addressing the issue requires an integrated, holistic and an all-inclusive approach in addressing the Nigerian maritime sector.
“One of the first issues experienced by the Eastern ports is security. Security in this instance needs to be addressed from four levels namely; social, economic, environmental and physical security challenges.
“The other issue with the Eastern ports is the interference of the communities with activities on the government right of way.
“The lack of a comprehensive shipping policy derivable from an equally comprehensive transport policy for Nigeria has made it difficult for adequate planning, implementation and addressing ports infrastructure, multimodal activities around the ports among others,’’ the communique said.
The communique noted that “there is the need for a comprehensive shipping policy for Nigeria’’.
The communique pointed out that that security needed a holistic, integrated and multi-level approach.
“The acceleration of the development of deep seaports and its attendant infrastructure facilities will significantly increase the economic benefits of the Nigerian maritime sector.
“The ports should be automated to reduce the issues of corruption and gridlocks at major Nigerian ports. This is in addition to managing containerised transportation that has become the order of the day in maritime cargo logistics and transportation.
“The development of the Eastern ports will require increasing the awareness of the existence of these ports. Awareness needs to be active and not a passive approach.
“Such active awareness include educating the communities on international shipping best practices.
Educating the shipping communities to enable them to have a better understanding of the mutual reciprocal benefits to the communities and shipping companies.
“Reducing tariffs across boards for maritime business activities and particularly in the Eastern ports, this will significantly increase the traffic to those ports,’’ the communique stated.
The communique, however, noted that the increased usage of the ports, particularly the Eastern ports, would transform significantly to increase in the economies of scale as well as boost the local economy around the port areas.
“In addressing the security issues around the Eastern ports, there is a need for economic integration through poverty alleviation initiatives as well as training and development of human capital.
“This is to reduce the community interference on the government right of way and outside the ports.
“Diversification of the economy, particularly with respect to the maritime sector will greatly boost the Nigerian economy and will address government’s policy on Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria,” it noted.