The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) on Tuesday threatened to revoke the licences of dormant Inland Container Depots (ICDs) in the country.
The Executive Secretary of the NSC, Hassan Bello, who issued the threat while speaking with journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, also said that the maritime industry contributes N1.9 trillion annually to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said with the nation’s vast coastline and huge natural resources, the industry can increase the contribution to as much as N7 trillion.
He described the maritime sector as the engine room of economic growth if only concerted efforts were made to leverage on its many deliverables.
Bello said, “We have been too glued to crude oil as if it won’t dry up. Now the value is down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Nigeria has robust maritime endowments that can buoy the economy if well harnessed. Currently, we are doing between N1.9 to N2 trillion contribution to the GDP but our target is N7 trillion.
“In achieving that, we need to modernise our ports. We’re targeting that by March 2021, 90% of our port operations will digitalised. We are currently at 60%. We want to increase efficiency, boost revenue and facilitate legitimate trade. The port must be digital. Physical contact is spoiling the port and we can’t continue that way.”
The NSC boss further said that strong lessons have been learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic that will change the fortunes of the country.
“We found out that our ports could run daily 24/7. We can and we have to operate round the clock. This is what we have in developed nations. We have a good partner with the Customs. We can achieve it. It would boost efficiency. We have made the train work in the port, likewise barges. The roads are being worked on. We’ve restored the train service.
“There are three train trips to bring in empty containers and take out the cargo-laden ones. For every train trip, 38 trucks are taken out. So, it means we would not have all the trucks at the ports and this will crash the haulage cost.
“Barges will also give the trucks a run for their money. You can imagine that it costs N800,000 to move a container from Apapa to Funtua by truck. That is high. So, the train service will crash the prices, save lives and preserve the roads. Cargo dwell time will be reduced from 20 days to seven days when the trains and barges are fully deployed to the ports,” he further stated.
Bello also appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend its intervention programmes to the maritime industry to unlock the potential in processing various commodities for export.
“Our ginger in Nigeria is the best but the logistics chain is bad and CBN can look into it. We need to look at the dry ports and make them viable. We need to urgently look at value addition, packaging and processing. With these, massive jobs can be created. We won’t care about oil anymore,” he said.