Steve Agbota, [email protected]
Nigeria, with huge potential, can generate about N180 billion (about $500 million) annually from ship chandling because it is an international business that is dollar-denominated.
Today, Nigeria is losing several billions of Naira yearly for not focusing on ship chandling. This gives room for foreigners to dominate the business despite the fact that it was established in Nigeria through an Act in 1958.
Ideally, the people (local chandlers) who involve in ship chandling business are made up of retail dealers who specialise in the supply of equipment and goods for ships, known as ships’stores.
The local chandlers supply items such as ship hardware, chemicals, galley equipment and supplies, charts and binoculars, paint and varnish, chipping hammers and scrapers, lubricants, foods and beverages, spare parts, water and other services to make the next trip smooth for the ship’s master and crews.
For instance, a ship of 5,000 Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT), would require about $50,000 monthly to take foods, pharmaceuticals, oil, lubricants and other things for it to go to sea and return to the port. Ironically, these items and services needed during a trip has been hijacked by foreigners while Nigerian chandlers are operating as a third party.
Speaking in an Instagram live programme organised by Mrs Ezinne Azunna of the MaritimeTv with the topic, ‘The Business of Ship Chandling in Nigeria,’ Consultant to the Chamber of Shipping, Mr Nnamdi Eronini said that the ship chandling sector could generate up to $500 million (N180 billion) annually for the country if well harnessed.
According to him, ship chandling industry is more or less like ship supply for consumables – food items and spares for vessels when they call at the seaports.
He added: “We have about 4,000 vessels that call at our ports yearly and the implication is that they will take ship victuals – ship supply; and this will require between $10,000 to $25,000 worth of ship supply. The industry has been thriving but in this business, there are cabals, interest and this led to the creation of Nigerian Licensed Ship Chandling Association to protect the interest of Nigerians plying the trade.
“The sector is faced with so many challenges ranging from funding, regulation implementation to the foreign monopoly of the sector and these challenges when curbed can lead to the sector generating more revenue for the country.”
He hinted that as regards funding, there is an urgent need for a maritime bank to help facilitate funds for local chandlers so that they could meet the demands of the vessels when they call at the ports. He called for the encouragement of indigenous participation in the sector, stating that lack of political will had led to foreign monopoly of the business.
Also speaking at the programme, Diving Inspector Elect, Mr Julius Ugwuala, said that gathering of statistics would help evaluate situations in case of any incidence with the chandling business, adding that challenges that existed in the chandling business had to do with hygiene, cleanliness, urging chandlers and shipowners to take these into consideration with the present COVID-19 situation.
He said, “there are challenges before the present COVID-19 situation and unfortunately, no one took statistics and this was one of the major reasons why they did not get 100 per cent productivity in activities offshore. People are vital elements when it comes to any operation. Food is also a critical stock and so whoever that is handling it needs to be hygienically saved.