Chairman, Nigerian Ports Consultative Council, Otunba Kunle Folarin has said over 85 per cent of goods and services that enters the country comes through Nigeria’s seaports.
Folarin who disclosed this at the book launch titled, “ABC of Shipping and Ports Operation in Nigeria,” written by Charles Okorefe in Lagos yesterday, said the current aggregate exceeds $15,000,000,000 a year through formal import order.
According to him, it is therefore settled that the maritime sector performance is indeed a major contributor to the nation’s economy and therefore must be given attention where discussions are made on port cost and port charges.
He added: “the side and scope of the maritime sector demands close attention by its value in the political economic and social structure of the nation.
The issues at stake are the prime indicators of the critical factors that propel the growth and dynamics of Nigeria as a developing economy and the largest regional power in West and Central Africa.
“In actual fact, Nigeria husbands at least 70 per cent of the political economy of the region. By recent statistics, Nigeria imports over 100,000 million metric tonnes of non-cargo and approximately two million units of containers a year.”
He said these figures are from formal trade alone and would certainly be bigger if the informal trade aspect of cargo movements is considered. Saying that ships traffic into Nigeria by latest data exceeds 5,307 per annum and the potential is certainly bigger when considering the capacity of cargo traffic to Nigeria’s landlocked countries Niger and Chad.
Going down memory lane, he said: “In 1979, following the end of the civil war in Nigeria, the federal government adopted a policy that focused on the need to reconstruction the infrastructure and super superstructures of those areas that are crucial to the restructuring of the commercial and industrial sectors of the country.
In order to give effect to the implementation of this policy, massive importation of building materials were placed on order and shipped about 600 vessels most of which arrived at the same time.”
He explained that the cargoes included heavy lift items and million’s of metric tons of cement. He said the available port infrastructure could not handle more than 12 vessels at a time in Lagos Apapa Port Complex, which was the largest port facility in the country at that time.
He said the result was long waiting days, weeks and even months at the anchorage. Saying it was then physical and infrastructural planning and survey of the Ports and Harbours should be mandatory.