Maritime Lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Olisa Agbakoba has called for an urgent review of maritime policies and the passage into law of all bills pending before the national assembly to move the sector forward.
Speaking at a press conference in Lagos on Wednesday, Agbakoba said that the delay in the passage of the Ports and Harbours bills among others is hampering development of the maritime sector.
He noted that there was need for an overhaul of policy, institutional, regulatory as well as legal framework in order for the country to benefit from the untapped revenue in the sector.
Represented by the Managing Partner of Olisa Agbakoba Legal (OAL), Mrs. Priscilla Ogwemoh, the former President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said the maritime sector could generate an annual estimate of N7 trillion to the economy if its untapped potentials are well harnessed.
He said, “We have advocated for a review of some of our laws such as the Cabotage Act, the Local Content Act, the Shipping Policy Act and the Ports and Harbours Bill and there has also been a call for serious reform in our port and issue of security must be looked into.
“There are so many leakages that if we are able to harness properly, it will lead to huge revenue. The N7 trillion is an estimate of what we are losing annually in the sector but if all these leakages are blocked, then the government would have a good revenue source from the maritime sector.
“We would like the Cabotage Act to be reviewed in a way that can lead to higher revenue generation. We are losing a lot of revenue due to the non-implementation of the Caboatge Law as a result of foreign vessels doing business on our waters.
“If the Cabotage Act is reformed, that would be another way we can block revenue leakages and if foreign vessels must operate within our waters, they must pay highly for it.”
He also called for the resuscitation of the Maritime Operations Coordination Board to harmonise all policies that would coordinate maritime affairs.
While lamenting the non-implementation of the recommendations put forward by a presidential committee, which he chaired under the past administration on how to move the sector forward, Agbakoba expressed hope that the present administration would adopt some of the recommendations.
He said his law firm had initiated consultation and collaboration with the Transport Minister towards the adoption and implementation of a roadmap that would provide the current administration with recommendations to achieve far-reaching initiatives in the maritime sector.
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