It is evidently manifest, and rightly so, that the nation’s maritime sector has become a notable contributor to efforts at poverty reduction, creation of wealth, promotion of skills acquisition and encouragement of entrepreneurship. Also, it has been proven, beyond doubt, that the maritime sector has the potential of contributing at least 10 percent of Nigeria’s GDP in no distance future because Nigeria has the biggest market in Africa and generates about 65-67 percent of cargo throughput in West Africa, and 65 percent of all cargo heading for this region invariably end up in the Nigerian market.
Indeed, Nigeria has vast and extensive maritime endowment base with a coastline of 800 kilometers, an Exclusive Economic Zone of over 200 nautical miles and this predisposes on the nation’s maritime sector the potential to speed up her economic development beyond crude oil revenue earnings.
Additionally, Nigeria has a vast inland waterway resource estimated at about 3,000 kilometers and comprising of over 50 rivers, both large and small, that can support a vibrant inter-regional trade. The country is also advantageously located on the coastline corridors of the Gulf of Guinea and the Bight of Benin and has eight littoral states coupled with a growing population and huge market that confers the capacity to stimulate substantial domestic tonnage.
The critical issue has been whether entrepreneurs have begun to strategically harness and exploit these opportunities in view of envisaged positive contributions to the growth of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and thereby reduce the nation’s unsustainable over-reliance on petroleum as Nigeria’s major revenue earner.
It is important to emphasise that emerging trends in the global maritime industry have a profound effect on the maritime sector in Nigeria thereby necessitating evaluation of how domestic factors also influence the maritime sector in the country.
In light of the foregoing, what becomes imperative is the need to strengthen and/or put in place the requisite institutional, capacity-building, and funding mechanisms that provide a conducive environment for harnessing these abundant maritime potentials. And as a competent Port-Authority, the Nigerian Ports Authority has continued to implement far-reaching and stakeholder-driven initiatives and interventions to improve the maritime sector. Some of these interventions include but are not limited to the following:
Collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Works & Housing (FMWH) and Messrs Dangote Plc. and Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc. for the funding and rehabilitation of the Apapa Port access roads to the tune of N4.3billion naira.
Liaison and collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Transportation for the introduction of Rail links to the Lagos Ports of Apapa and Tin Can Island.
Ongoing collaboration and synergy with the Nigerian Railway Corporation in order to increase the latter’s market share in cargo evacuation from the ports.
Collaboration with other stakeholders including all tiers of Government to produce a Traffic Management framework for stemming the traffic gridlock at Apapa.
Collaboration with Inland Container Depot at Kaduna State for cargo evacuation to the Northern hinterland areas.The Management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) recently implemented the new Revenue and Invoice Management System (RIMS) which is meant to improve both revenue generation and ports operation using real time modern and techniques in port operation for port users.
NPA is partnering with Federal Roads Safety Commission (FRSC) on Enforcement of Minimum Safety Standards in vehicles operating from and to the seaports
NPA Management in collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service, NEPZA and Oil & Gas Free Trade Authority recently approved direct shipping calls for vessels for 3 business entities in the Lagos Pilotage District that would boost commercial maritime activities for the Import and Export Shipping community and the entire nation.
As part of efforts to revive the Eastern Ports, NPA has introduced a 10 per cent discount on harbor dues for certain category at vessels calling at Calabar, Rivers and Delta Ports.