Mr Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, on Monday urged members of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) to ensure unity to tackle issues that arose in the industry.
Bello made the plea when President of the association, Dr Mcgeorge Onyung, paid courtesy visit to the council in Lagos.
“We do not want to see many associations within the shipping industry, and your coming together will remove impediments from the industry.
“We need to come together, galvanise and even seek help from the Federal Government.
“This is because, the NSC has something in common with the shippers, and that is to ensure we have a robust industry,” he said.
According to Bello, the issue of having national fleets, which has to do with finance, is being tackled by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
“Its function has to do with indigenous capacity,” Bello said.
He said the national fleet was supposed to be private sector driven, adding that the country has the expertise, but not the opportunity.
“We want to see increase in the tonnage, and if we do not have ships, we cannot trade.
“Presently, 800 million dollars are charges by foreign ships as freight, for bringing our cargoes; we are creating jobs outside, increasing the wealth of other nations.
“We need to own and operate ships 100 per cent and so, the importance of this meeting, to review things and see the way forward after the lockdown, since people have started travelling,” Bello said.
The shippers’ council boss said to aid the shipping industry, they were looking into the local content, which was an important mandate they needed to dovetail into.
Bello noted that investors would come into Nigeria, if impediments to shipping were removed; hence, the need to change some policies and provide opportunities for diversification.
“We need indigenous ships so that our seafarers can have their air time.
“Also, we must have that blue print implementation and actualisation of indigenous ship; so, the need to come together to face government and get these things done,” he said.
Speaking, Onyung described leadership of the association as a problem, as everyone wanted to be on top and in power.
According to him, this leads to the overlooking of certain things and at the end, things will not be actualised.
“I have been in the medical field before I ventured into shipping, and I can say that shipping is the biggest thing now and whatever I can do, I assure you that I will do it.
“Anyone who wants to remain alone should do so; the train has started moving and we want to move with you on that train, because you understand the pains and problems of ship owners.
“As far as working together with the NSC is concerned, I will continue to preach that gospel, because when anybody is on the water, you cannot be an island there,” he said.