One cannot over emphasise the fact that the maritime industry, playing host to other critical sub industries, is a major revenue earning sector of the economy and the fulcrum with which to drive the socio-economic development of the nation.
Measuring how well the sector has fared in Nigeria’s 55-year anniversary cannot be properly placed on its right perspective, except by evolving a measurable, transparent performance indicators or developmental indices in relation to the volume of investment, inputs and out puts thereof, which shall include but not limited to: Export/Revenue Performance: A major main stay of the Economy Pre Concession, but suffered serious drift on account of ineffective administration at the central. Today, real export activities are struggling to find its right of place, excerpt for crude oil exports.
Import/Revenue Performance: Following the collapse of export related activities, import business took a center stage. Though rapid growth has been recorded, but at the long run, hampering on both our balance of trade and foreign exchange reserve, as labour /wealth are indirectly transferred to the foreign country of manufacture.
Vessel Calls/Throughputs: Compared to pre concession, remarkable miles has been achieved, different ships, in their sizes, volume, types call to our ports with ease, except for panama, marcopolo vessels.
Presence of Shipping Lines /Agencies: Pre concession, major shipping lines had its agents on ground, but today most of the major shipping lines have its full physical presence on ground, administrative office structure.
Transport infrastructural & complementary developments:- Ports Infrastructures: compared to pre concession reasonable progress has been achieved.
Ship Yards /Repairs Infrastructures: Compared to pre concession era, there seems to be policy misdirection.
Shipbuilding/Acquisitions/National Fleets: Compared to pre concession era, started and fared well then, but along the line, suffered serious policy miscalculation and inconsistency, also a victim of corruption and maladministration.
Sub Industries/Sub-Sector Developments:
Freight Forwarding &Logistics Sector: though suffered much neglect, but self sustaining and has recorded reasonable improvement.
Manufacturing/processing/export sector: failed power sector contributed to its epileptic out puts.
Dockworkers /Cadets/Seafarers Sector: appreciable miles recorded on the path of dock workers, but for the cadet / seafarers, while the human resources are available, the essential facilities are lacking in line with efficient/effective training.
Insurance Sector: its relevance, expected level patronage and involvement in the international trade supply chain is not even yet.
Navigation’s Dredging and Drought: Compared to pre concession era, remarkable miles has been achieved, at least berths can boost of 9 meters to 13 meters drought. Channels are constantly monitored, NPA deserves a thumb up.
Cargo Handling Facilities: reasonable improvement noted when compared to pre concession era of the NPA’s grave yard of cargo handling Equipments.
Coastal (in land) Transportation: to date its impact and growth is still slow and cannot score a pass mark.
Inter Port Rail and Road Networking: at inception it was commendable but went into a comatose state in the early 90’s.
Green Ports Development: no concrete plans to evolve further, a green port development, as investors are mostly interested in the brown ports, straight jacket investment, via concession/privatisation. However, the global trend and quest for the development of deep seaports to meet the global emergence of marco-polo vessels, recently prompted an efforts being channeled towards the development of Ibaka, Lekki, Onukola and Badagary deep sea ports.
Outer Ports/Container Freight Stations/Container Yards/Inland Depot: While we commend the emergence of various private bonded terminals in the 90’s, the absent of a container freight stations /container yards, is hampering on products processing and storages, thereby, affecting the export business performance. However, the Nigeria Shippers Council is commended for its inland container depot vision for the geo-political zones of the nation.
Ports Access Roads: Beyond late 80’s, the port access road began to get dilapidated as the access road could no longer withstand the increasing cargo growth, leading to an increase in vehicular activities to and fro the port access road. Today, however, the port access road is snowballing into a state of emergency.
Illegal Bunkering Activities: 18 Years after independence, following the oil boom of 1977-79, Illegal bunkering thrives and became almost an unstoppable venture by cabals, not until 2014 to date, serious attempt to curb the menace was noticed. This illegal activity is a major promoter of sea piracy and siphoning of accruable revenues.
Fishing Activities: Nigeria fishing industries performed very well up to early 90’s but today, it is gradually snowballing into a near state of emergency as foreign fishing trawlers seems to be encroaching and almost dominating our water within and few miles beyond the economic zone of 200 nautical miles on the sea.
Safety/Security of the waters; Piracy/ Policing Activities: As noted above, there are quite a number of piracy threats and attacks, though the activities of Niger delta – militants attacks was pronounced, down the line, comparable to the global sea unrest, NIMASA still deserve a thumb up.
Inter-Agency Collaborations: The joint MoU / partnership between the Navy, Custom, Police, NIMASA, etc can be said to be justifiable and deserves a thumbs up notwithstanding noticeable and prevailing lapses.
Institutional Reforms: Highly commendable dock labour reforms, customs modernisation, introduction of servicom charter, NPA reforms, establishment of freight forwarders regulatory council, etc are among key several reforms of the government that injected and improved ports operations.
Effectiveness of Public Enterprises: Government from all indications is gradually removing its hands from public enterprise administration, an indirect admittance that it lacked the managerial know how in enterprise management. Hence, its resort to quick jump into privatisation/ concessioning of public enterprises. Government in expressing its resolve in this direction has created an agency to serve this specific purpose, that is, the Bureau for Public Enterprise – BPE.
Suffice to note that, no reasonable economic development may be attained over time thriving on monopolised private system, therefore, it means that making a paradigm shift from public sector monopoly to private sector monopoly will do the economy no good, government must be determined to design its strong business interest and involvement to stabilise and promote a healthy competition.
This perhaps explains why, Great Britain concessioned 45% of its ports and manages 55 % as public enterprise this is to pave way for efficiency, security, healthy competition, retained and sustainable professional expertise.
The India, government emulated and did almost the same thing. The South Africa government, retained its public enterprise posture, only rebranded its port, metamorphosed to “Transnet Port” of SA, then “out sourced” areas it’s lacked technical capacity. Ghana retained and manages Takoradi’s Port by itself, while retaining also 30% share having offered its Tema Port to two operators who accepted to form a consortium, for a 70% share, this two operators APM Terminals and Bollare Terminals under the consortium arrangements is now known as “Mediterranean Ports Strategy” -MPS.
In all, governments are advised to develop capacity at striking a balance between monopoly and competition in its future privatisation/ concession processes.
Private Public Partnership Arrangements: is the tone of the day, kudos to government, but still there are reservations.
Legislative Roles; Amendments and Formulations of Acts: The NASS deserves commendation in this regard. The NPA, NCS, SON, Cabotage Acts Amendment, etc. Also, the Local Content Board comes to reference, the NTC, PIB, among several others that were passed in the dying minute of the last Senate Assembly even as some are said to be awaiting presidential vetos. Looking into the future, the stakeholders opine that, the law formulations processes should be fast-tracked and strengthen to assist the sector timely.
Training Institutions: Adequate, but are poorly funded, thereby affecting out puts.
Maritime Libraries/ Research Institutions: Almost at a state of neglect, as concerned ministries and agencies lack official vote in this respect.
Grade/ Certification/International Acceptance: Nationally a pass mark will suffice but internationally no. This accounts for the reason, why the federal government spent so many funds for foreign training.
Maritime Enlightens and Sensitisations; Conferences, Workshop, Seminars, Technical Committees, Organisational Retreats, International Exchange of Expertise, etc: highly commendable, as much has been achieved in this regards.
Tariffs Structure: Fair before port concession, presently tariff are inconsistent, unstructured and above industrial standard/averages. Port pricing systems are not empirical yet.
Availability of Cargo Handling Equipments: Compare to what obtains pre port concession and now, a deserving pass mark will suffice, but with consideration to trade growth and throughputs, much is seriously desired, even as noticeable operational delays occasioned by inadequate corresponding, handling equipments to match throughputs is increasingly creeping into several days and its attendant cost implications.
Terminal efficiency/Yard Spacing/ Automation: There is improvement looking at where and what it was before port concession in 2006. Full integrations and automations of all transaction process to the extent that it reduces human contact to go and the evolution of on-line e-transaction is still an issue with some shipping and terminal operators. The physical presence & time spent at: booking/ commercial halls transactions, securing cargo positioning/scanning, releasing, etc the processes and procedures speak volumes and a negation to the 48 hours cargo clearance drive.
Bert Productions: Compared to pre concession, a pass mark will suffice, but when compared with neighboring countries performance indicators it is a “below pass mark”.
Cargo Forecasting/Projections: There has been a noticeable, seemingly dearth in this important aspect of operations on the part of NPA, a little below pass mark on the part of the operators.
On Time Delivery/Business Friendly/Just in Time (-JIT) Driven Terminals Operations: Compared to pre concession, a fair improvement recorded. In post concession, much is desired. It takes some operators 3 to 7 days to position a container for physical examination or scanning operations, 2 to 4 days to plan and effect cargo delivery, 2 to 5 days to receive empty containers.
Turnaround time of a Vessel: Great improvement recorded, So far, compared to pre concession, now evenly ranked within the sub- region.
Turn Around Time of Utility Trucks: Compare to pre concession, a Seemingly stereotype activities has been witnessed, due to a number of cogent reasons, dwell time of empty container on a truck, before it’s been discharged, not even and proximate empty container with holding bays, traffic gridlocks, etc. Though number of truckers and trucks fleets has drastically increased over time, but unregulated.
Efficient Common Users Roads: Compared to pre concession, with respect to development, managing the tear and wear/palliative measures maintenance, a pass mark will suffice.
Cargo dwell Time: Compared to pre concession, in some ports a noticeable and recorded slight difference from 21 days dwell time if cargo down to 18 days, in some ports average mark has been recorded, from 21 days down to 11 days, while above average in some port, from 21 days down to 8 days, though some factors are also responsible.
Port Health / Environmental Pollution: Compared to pre concession, a pass mark, but there is still much need for a better improvement. In some terminals, cargo examination bay is still very dusty during harmattan and flooded during rainy season. No effective control standards of carbon-monoxide emissions from cargo handling gears, even from trucks, etc.
With special emphasis to the noticeable conflicting assigned functions of the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing and Aviation, in strong terms, there will be need to revisit the records. For instance, on February 1, 1966, the Transport, Works and Housing Ministries were charged with the following responsibilities for the “Matters or Groups of Matters set out” against their respective ministries: ministry of transport responsibilities.
Relations with the following bodies: Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Nigerian National Shipping Line, Nigerian Airways and Nigerian Civil Aviation Training Centre.
The two assigned functions to the ministry of works and housing that should be transferred to the ministry of transport, a call for legislative amendments: – development and operation of national trunk roads including regulations on traffic on national trunk roads and roads research.
Without prejudice, therefore, there is urgent need to ensure that this aspect of responsibilities be integrated into the transport ministry so as to achieve a robust ministry of transport that is all inclusive in its organisational structure, repackaged to consist of the following directorates: directorate of shipping transportation, with a director general.
With this, all the director generals shall report to one minister of transport. Apart from saving administrative cost, it brings the over canvassed need for the four transport mode under a seamless coordination and effective control, which will in the long run trigger the much expected intermodal/internet working. Most importantly is the aspect of prompt trade facilitation derivable therein.

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