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6,000 cargoes abandoned at Lagos seaports since 2011 – Oyetola

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Nigeria’s terms of trade drops by 0.12%

Mr. Gboyega Oyetola, Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, says that about 6,000 abandoned cargoes are lying at Apapa and Tin Can ports in Lagos since 2011.

The minister spoke on Wednesday during his visit to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) office in Lagos.

According to him, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) physical examination in clearing processes is compounding the problem of overtime cargoes at the ports.

Oyetola added that the abandoned cargo occupies space and costs the country huge losses.

“About 6,000 abandoned cargoes are lying at Apapa and Tin Can Island ports uncleared. I witnessed one of the inspections and saw cargo hanging around. I understand some of them have been there since 2011,” he said.

“There must be a time frame when the cargo must be cleared otherwise they will be declared abandoned. When the demurrage accumulated, the importers abandoned the cargoes at the ports.”

Oyetola said ease of doing business at the ports must be encouraged, noting that Customs must use scanners for faster clearing processes, rather than the physical examination that is slow and accrues demurrage.

Oyetola noted that the port community system, which is a single window platform for all the actors in the maritime industry, must be pursued seriously as other developed countries have adopted technology to simplify their processes.

“What is the need of keeping overtime cargo that long? We need to talk with customs to see why the cargoes are lying there. What is important is we must see ourselves as actors in the sector. The Marine and Blue economy has been with us, but we have not done it in a very coordinated manner. We have a lot of potential but we don’t take advantage,” he said

The minister also decried foreign trawlers invading Nigeria’s territorial waters for fishing, saying Nigeria needs to develop fishing trawlers either buying or encouraging those that build them to empower youths and create jobs.

He said the marine and blue economy centres around economic growth, environmental sustainability and job creation among other potentials, noting that all actors in the industry must work together to harness it and generate revenue for the economy.

Oyetola encourages NCS to focus on port efficiency and generate revenue for the government, while pledging support for the council’s productivity.

The Director of Planning, NSC, Rotimi Anifowose, listed issues that require urgent attention of the minister including amendment of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council Act to institute effective port economic regulation.

He also called for the actualisation of a one per cent freight stabilisation fee on import and export to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council as enshrined in the NSC Subsidiary Legislation as well as the implementation of the International Cargo Tracking Note.

Anifowose stressed the need for the establishment of a national fleet, which the Federal Government appointed the Council as the secretariat to the Nigerian Fleet Implementation Committee.

According to him, the proposed fleet which is to be wholly private-sector driven is expected to address the following challenges, which include, low national tonnage capacity, loss of jobs and freight earnings, the distorted balance of trade, the insignificant contribution of the sector to gross domestic product (GDP) and foreign domination of maritime activity.

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He said the national fleet, when implemented, would add over $5.42 billion to the country’s GDP.

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