The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello on Thursday, stressed the need for Nigeria to develop deep sea ports and attract bigger vessels to significantly boost the economy, because Apapa and Tin Can ports were presently over stretched to accommodate more than the current cargo.
Bello stated this at a One-day seminar organized by the Council for members of Abuja Transport and Aviation Correspondents Association (ATACA) in Abuja, noting that Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports were not deep enough to berth bigger vessels.
The NSC Boss also emphasized the need for the establishment of a national fleet, noting that the country was presently, annually losing about $9 billion, because of it s absence.
He said if Nigeria could develop more deep sea ports, the country would become a hub in the West African sub-region.
“The Vice President has said that Nigeria will develop deep sea ports.
“The advantages are clear, Apapa and Tin Can are River ports, and they don’t have the depth that they should have”, he stated, noting that the Apapa and Tin Can ports were presently lower in depth when compared to Togo where the ports come up with 15 meters depth.
“In Apapa and Tin Can, you have to dredge almost all the time; you have to maintain capital dredging so that you will sustain its current depth.
“And this means bigger ships cannot come and then the economy of scale cannot hold, because it means you will be serviced by certain containers carriers.
“But if you have deep sea ports, like the one being developed in Lekki, then we actually could go up to 15 meters.
“That means Nigeria could be a hub, where bigger ships will come with more containers to service other places. So, we can be a hub for other countries, if we get our efficiency right,” he said.
Bello highlighted also that Nigeria was presently losing about $9 billion annually to foreign shipping lines because of the absence of a viable flag carrier and indigenous shipping lines.
He said there was need to have a national carrier to avoid such huge capital flight or revenue loss to foreign shipping companies, adding that having a national shipping line would also boost the opportunity for employment creation.
“If we do that, we are going to have that $9 billion as coming into Nigeria’s economy; and you can imagine the effect that it will have.
“We need to see ships flying Nigerian flag. It is not rocket science, it is not re-inventing the wheel, because this has happened elsewhere, what we need is a more committed private sector participation.
“The private sector should lead the way and that is exactly what the committee for the fleet implementation is doing; to create the right investment climate, so that investors can come and make it a worthwhile venture,” he said