High cost of business remains an issue in Nigeria’s Maritime Industry

The sector performed averagely well in the last six months, based on the laudable efforts of the Federal Government and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), in dredging the Lagos channel to about 14-metre draught that allows the ports to accommodate bigger vessels.

But the N1 trillion bench mark given to the Nigerian Customs Service (NSC), the multiple levies by the agencies at ports and the fuel price increase announced in early January by the Federal Government, have contributed significantly to the high cost of doing business at the ports as truck drivers and terminal operators rely on diesel and petrol to power their vehicles and equipment.

Charges, such as service, bank, concessionaires’ services, tally clerk, commission on turnover, port administrative charges among others, are too numerous for importers and  they impeded business in the last six months.

Survey and dredging: In most of the terminals at the Lagos ports, NPA is maintaining appropriate navigable drafts. The problem of drafts for bigger vessels carrying over 4, 500 is no longer a challenge.

Dredging is carried out by  the Lagos Channel Management Limited for the NPA.

NPA is assisting the terminal operators to maintain designed drafts by assessing dredging requirements.

Also, the challenge of pilotage has been reduced to the barest minimum. Pilotage services are  promptly provided. Although the minimum time for providing pilotage varies from terminal to terminal, the unnecessary delay has been removed by the NPA..

Lack of commercial regulator: Operators in the industry are not happy over the refusal of the Federal Government to appoint a commercial regulator for the industry. But  they expressed happiness with the performance of the  the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in the period under review.

There is need for the Federal Government to create commercial regulators that would curb arbitrary charges and see to the rapid growth of the industry.

There is need for collaboration between security agencies at the port as their activities fell below expectation in the last six months. Operators have called for co-operation to boost  trade

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IMAGES: http://www.ontvsite.com/ http://www.anconmaritime.com

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