The absence of a national shipping line to handle domestic seaborne trade has been fingered as the reason the Nigerian maritime sector has been losing shipping and insurance jobs to foreign-owned companies
Gbemisola Saraki, minister of state for transportation, stated in her keynote speech during the opening ceremony of the ongoing 3-day 16th edition of Maritime Seminar for Judges organized by the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute in Abuja.
Represented by Hussein Adamu, director of Procurement of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, the Minister said this was why the development of a national fleet has become imperative.
“There is a need for capacity building in the maritime industry. Most of our maritime transportation is conducted by foreign shipowners, thereby limiting the economic benefits accruable to the nation and the sub-region in areas such as creation of jobs through freight and insurance earnings,” she said.
According to her, the present administration is looking into ways of encouraging the establishment of a private sector-driven national shipping line to ensure maximum exploitation of the potential in the maritime industry.
“A Ministerial Committee has been working on this important initiative and we look forward to having their concrete recommendations for immediate implementation,” the minister said.
Saraki however urged the judicial system to ensure speedy and efficient dispensation of maritime matters by the courts because in international commercial transactions, time is money and important.
This seminar, she said, has created a veritable forum where prominent jurists and legal luminaries rub minds on how to enhance the competitiveness and economic viability of the maritime industry.
While declaring the Seminar open, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, the acting chief justice of Nigeria, said the maritime law in Nigeria, which is a specialised area, has witnessed novel developments in recent past.
He said the development has taken into consideration the importance of the maritime industry, as conventions like the Hamburg Rules as well as the enactment of important legislations like the Merchant Shipping Act have ensured speedy adjudication of maritime disputes before the courts.
Ariwoola however urged the National Judicial Institute to deepen the collaborative engagement with the Shippers Council to aid the course of justice and enhance the speedy dispensation of justice in Admiralty matters.
Earlier, Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour (rtd), the chairman of the occasion, said Nigerian Port needs to be fully automated to ease doing business for consignees.
According to him, automation has the potential to eradicate corruption and other negative activities in the maritime sector.
“Corruption is a major bane of development and is counterproductive to maximising productivity and efficiency. Stakeholders must ensure that all hands are on deck to get rid of any fraudulent and corrupt practices in the industry. Corruption militates against development. It increases the cost of doing business, limits economic growth, negatively impacts on social wellbeing, destroys and distorts processes and procedures, robs the government of legitimate revenue and gives the country a bad image globally,” Rhodes-Vivour added.