Adopt holistic approach to revamp maritime sector, experts urge Tinubu

“Imagine for the whole of Apapa, only one scanner is deployed, when an average freight forwarder exits 300 to 400 containers on a daily basis; this does not work well because it leads to congestion.


Some maritime experts on Tuesday urged President Bola Tinubu to adopt a holistic approach to revamp the sector.

They made the call in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

Mr Stanley Ezenga, Secretary, Western Zone, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), said the perennial congestion at the ports, which had affected operations drastically needed to be addressed holistically.

Ezenga, who is also the General Manager, Elrol Integrated Services Ltd., said the congestion was man-made had bred corruption and rendered the port uncompetitive.

According to Ezenga, most of the time, the congestion stems from inadequate handling of equipment from the terminal operators and this leads to longer waiting time for trucks to discharge empty containers.

He said another issue that should be looked into was that of scanners deployed at the port, which he described as inadequate.

“Imagine for the whole of Apapa, only one scanner is deployed, when an average freight forwarder exits 300 to 400 containers on a daily basis; this does not work well because it leads to congestion.

“Now, when one is selected for scanning, it takes like four days before the container is scanned and this is as a result of backlog. Efforts should be made to increase the scanners because they aid trade facilitation.

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“Also, customs remuneration should be looked into to avoid the high-handedness that leads to corruption and criminal tendencies.

“More importantly, a career customs officer should be appointed to head the customs; someone who knows the nitty-gritty of the operations, knows when to apply breaks and accelerate, unlike someone who is not there from the beginning,” he said.

He said even though the Controller General of Customs (CGC) was supposed to be a manager of men, he needed to manage the men with resources available, men with intellect, capacity and knowledge of the job.

Also, Alhaji Rilwan Amuni, the Taskforce Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA), Tincan chapter, said the maritime industry had been in a state of comatose due to the unfriendly policies of past administrations.

“In a country where there is no manufacturing, no light, nothing, and we expect the import to be higher than the export.

“President Tinubu has said that he will look into the economy, if good policies are fully implemented, then, we expect the level of exportation to be more than the importation.

“But I know that it will be very difficult for now. But if we are still managing the import sector, the import duties which are high should be looked into,” he said

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He said there was a lull at the ports presently, leading to loss of jobs which could be attributed to global recession, coupled with the high exchange rate of the naira against dollar.

He urged the new administration to look into the maritime sector and harmonise the many levies introduced at the port.

“Like the 15/20 percent levy on used vehicles should be removed. What are we paying levies for, for used items, nobody derived pleasure in buying used things.

“When we buy new things and we pay levies, we are not bothered, but on used items, it’s too much, it’s multiple taxation. We thank God that the President said yesterday that his administration would look into multiple taxation.

“That levy should be removed, so that the ease-of-doing business at the port will be seamless,” he said.

He said during the Goodluck Jonathan era, there was an office for Special Adviser on Maritime Affairs, urging Tinubu to look for a professional to head that office.

“This will enable them have direct access and first-time information on what happens at the port.

“You can imagine someone paying a duty of N5 million and levy of N4 million; what is duty and what is levy, this is multiple taxation,” he said.

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