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Politics

Maritime: Reps probe NPA, others over alleged $7bn annual revenue loss 

The House of Representatives on Tuesday unveiled plans to investigate the $7 billion revenue allegedly lost annually due to poor management and inefficiencies at the nation’s seaports.

The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion on the ‘Need to investigate gaps and loss of opportunities in the Maritime Sector’, co-sponsored by the Majority Leader, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere​​​​​ and Hon. Ibrahim Isiaka.

In his lead debate, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere harped on the importance of the maritime sector to the Nigerian economy’s survival with under-utilized seaports which can increase the nation’s revenue and indeed the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“The House also notes that Nigeria’s seaports receive barely 10% of West African imports out of 60 per cent destined for Nigeria, a significant economic loss due to poor management and inefficiencies, estimated to cost $7 billion annually.

“The House is concerned that most ships bringing goods to Nigeria prefer to go to other ports to Nigerian ports. Indeed the Benin Republic benefits from Nigeria’s large market, while Cotonou remains a popular importer’s haven, huge trade cargoes are lost to Togo and other neighbouring countries from where they are offloaded and trans-shipped to Nigeria due to Poor shipping connectivity and shallow drafts of the port channels which lead to trade cargo losses, estimated to be N250 billion in 2016 alone.

“The House is worried as to why the nation is unable to provide adequate infrastructure and reduce pressure on Lagos ports and why the Calabar, Port Harcourt, Warri, and Koko ports cannot be developed as a haven for importers in the region.

“The House is also worried that the lack of adequate infrastructure and capacity in the growing cargo and maritime business is a significant issue.

“The House is disturbed that Nigeria’s Apapa Port lost West Africa’s leading position due to congestion and poor quality services to shippers.

“Port of Lomé, with a capacity of 1.1 million twenty-foot containers, overtook Lagos Port due to modernization reforms which tripled its capacity from 311,500 containers to 3.1 million, thus, making ‘Togo’s Port of Lomé becoming a regional transit hub.

“The House is also disturbed that Nigeria’s Apapa Port, Lagos, which handles about 1 million TEU annually, lost 30 per cent of its container traffic over five years due to several factors bedevilling its inability to deliver efficient services to cargo owners, this explains why Nigerian ports have remained inefficient over the years.

“Nigeria’s major seaports in Lagos do not have deep draughts to handle bigger vessels, while modern seaports in Port of Lomé have a depth of 16.60 meters and capacity to accommodate third-generation ships Apapa port operates with a 13,5 meters draught that can only allow vessels with about 4,000 TEUs of containers to call the port,” he noted.

To this end, the House mandated the joint Committees on Port and Harbours, National Planning and Economic Development, Maritime Safety Education and Administration and Nigerian Shippers’ Council to investigate the gaps affecting the full realisation of the economic advantage of Ports and Harbours and other Blue Economy in Nigeria

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