President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Tony Iju Nwabunike, has said that the nation’s maritime sector can retain existing employments and create new ones even in the face of the coronavirus pandemic if its potentials are well harnessed.
Nwabunike, who spoke in Lagos on Wednesday, noted that although the maritime industry is not completely cut off from effects of the pandemic, the sector holds potentials for increased export and promotion of the country’s comparative advantage in international trade.
He said, “We have watched the shocking and ongoing devastating impacts of the coronavirus disease on various sectors of the economy leading to massive job loss and general quake in the global economy.
“Though not completely insulated from effects of the pandemic, the Nigerian maritime industry holds potentials to serve as the country’s low hanging fruits for economic growth, stability and survival.
“Unlike the aviation industry where government agencies like Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) including airlines are either mulling salary slash, workers’ layoff and shrinking in human capital needs, the maritime industry still holds the ace as indispensable mode for global trade and commerce.
“Rather than worry over likelihood of job loss, customs brokers, freight forwarders, truck owners, chandlers and other ancillary service providers in the industry should gravitate towards keeping themselves abreast with virtual presence and operations in the ports.”
Nwabunike said there is no better time than now for businesses in the industry to embrace full automation to reduce human contact at the port as persons can meet virtually, process and receive documents in the comfort of their homes.
“While the port cannot be virtual, our presence can be. We have been partaking in webinars where we communicate effectively; take business and corporate decisions without travelling. This is the new curriculum we are recommending as a basic training content for everyone wishing to use ports and other maritime services moving forward,” he said.