Nigeria's 'lack of flag carrier means high costs, lost jobs'


MARITIME stakeholders in Nigeria have lambasted the federal government for its inability to float a viable national carrier, resulting in an estimated 20,000 local and offshore job losses in recent years.

They also spoke out against importers having to pay an estimated US$6.16 billion a year to foreign shipping companies in freight charges.

Maritime expert Ismaila Aniemu condemned the attitude of Nigerians towards its maritime policy, saying that Nigeria is the largest exporter of oil and yet the government doesn't own any ships to carry the commodity. This is despite the nation being the largest importer in the west and central African region, accounting for over 65 per cent of income coming into the region.

On job losses, Mr Aniemu stated that 20,000 jobs have been lost in the sector as a result of the absence of a national fleet, reported Nigeria Today.

"I can boldly tell you that we have lost over 20,000 employments, quality and world-class employment because when the national shipping line was operating it had offices outside Nigeria and Nigerians were working there," said Mr Aniemu. 

"That Development House you see in Apapa that is abandoned today, was occupied by Nigerian National Shipping Line. Food is going out of Nigeria; groundnut was going out of Nigeria. So many things were leaving this country and jobs were being created not just for the farmer."

Director general of the Association of National Customs Licensed Agents (ANLCA), Joel Nwosu, argued that cadet officers being churned out by Nigerian maritime institutes end up doing menial jobs instead of practicing their trade because of the lack of experience at sea.

"When we had the National Shipping Line, at least the revenue generated from that project went into the national coffers. But now as an export-dependent nation, most of our imports come from abroad and we end up paying freight charges to all these foreign shipping lines. These monies should have been paid to the National Shipping Line, a Nigerian-owned shipping line.

"Second is the employment aspect. We have the Institute of Oceanography and other marine academies where Nigerians are trained. But when they come out they are most times unemployable because we don't have a shipping line where they can go and have a sea experience."

Chief of Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Patrick Osita Chukwu, pointed out that: "In aviation, Nigeria has no single cargo plane. So, all the cargoes coming through the airport are foreign aircraft. For that reason, Nigeria is losing over US$500 million in the aviation sector, yearly. 

"Let Nigeria go back and get a national carrier, even if it is two ships or two aircraft," he said.

"When you talk of shipping line you talk of air cargo. Both fly Nigerian flag. Nigerians are losing a lot because if a foreign cargo is charging $2 and a Nigerian cargo ship is charging $1, Nigerians will prefer a Nigerian ship. 

"So, the monopoly by foreign shipowners will drop drastically. If they know that Nigeria has what they have then the relationship will be cordial. The foreign shipowners are cheating us because we don't have what they have," he said.

Source: Schednet 

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