The Executive Secretary, Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), on Sunday said the country was losing $9.1 billion yearly on freight revenue that would have accrued to its treasury,
He said the amount was being lost to foreign ships.
Mr Bello, who spoke on the feasibility of the proposed National Carrier, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that foreign shipping lines were milking the country dry.
“We need to have a national carrier because of the profound economic impact it will have on our economy. We have lost so much in terms of earnings of freight to foreign shipping companies.
“Nigerians don’t operate any ship at all; that is on the part of the dry cargo. On the wet cargo, Nigerians don’t lift the crude and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, thought that this imbalance is very dangerous to the economy.
“So he set up a committee with the Nigeria Shippers Council as chairman to lead the private sector and we started working with PIL which is a Singaporean shipping company.
“We signed an MOU with it about three years back but the operating atmosphere of shipping in Nigeria is murky and not profitable because there are many obstacles which include lack of incentives.
”Fourthly, unwillingness or inability of Nigeria’s private sector to support this very important enterprise is another issue,” Mr Bello said.
Bello said that the committee for the national fleet implementation had to go back to look at it closely. “We have now retraced our steps”.
”The national fleet is such an important venture that it has to be painstakingly done. We are talking about one or two-year project,” he said.
He added that “what we have done was because the government is very serious about the economy, we were able to approach and get the audience of the Vice-President and we addressed the Economic Management Team on the vision.
This project, if we get it right, it means much more earnings for freight.
“Each year, we lose 9.1billion dollars in freight to foreign ships.
”Between 2004 and 2017, Nigeria recorded total vessel traffic of 25,256 vessels with the total gross freight of $39 billion and earning a paltry sum of $1 billion as levy for NIMASA.
“It means greater revenue for the government, employment for our people. It means setting up of associated industries, shipbuilding, ship repairs, involvement of our financial institutions like banks and insurance, even the pride of having ships flying the Nigerian flags”.
He said there were lots of reforms to be made and they include the flag administration and the ship registry of Nigeria.
”Both had to be reformed in line with the international standard so that we could attract people to come and register ships in Nigeria.
”We need vessel repairs and vessel building so that we don’t tow our ships to Singapore or Ghana for repairs. That will be a drain on the business.
”We need a reform of our nautical colleges, MAN Oron especially, so that they would produce the best of cadets so that cadets produced would have sea time experience, using Nigerian ships.
“If we have investments and we are able to establish the fleet, that means NIMASA will accord that fleet the status of national carrier.
”And if this is done, it means that they will have first priority in cargo; project cargos, Nigerian cargo, cargo belonging to federal, state and LGAs,” he said.
The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited at the weekend in Abuja signed an agreement with Geometric Power Aba Limited to support the 140-megawatts Aba Integrated Power Project (IPP) in Abia State
The agreement is a gas supply and aggregation agreement signed between SPDC, Geometric Power Aba Limited, and Gas Aggregation Company of Nigeria.
Consequently, Shell will supply gas via an already installed gas pipeline network from the SPDC venture gas plant in Imo River traversing Abia and Rivers states to the power producer, Geometric Power Aba Limited.
According to the Managing Director of SPDC who also is the country Chair of Shell companies in Nigeria, Osagie Okunbor, the deal was to demonstrate that the company was committed to the industrialisation of the country through gas.
Represented by SPDC’s General Manager, Business and Government Relations, Bashir Bello, Okunbor said, “For more than 50 years, Shell has been in the forefront of the campaign to develop and monetise Nigeria’s huge gas resources and it is good to see more players joining the fray to grow the gas market and help improve lives and the earnings in Nigeria.”
Also speaking at the signing ceremony of the agreement, Nigeria’s Minister of state for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu noted that the Aba IPP had the potential of opening up the Aba market for economic growth.
Kachikwu who was represented by his Special Adviser on Fiscal Strategy, Dr Tim Okon, said the government was determined in ensuring the commercial sustainability of any such project with the potential to grow the gas market.
The Chief Executive Officer, GAPL, Prof. Bath Nnaji, said the project would woo investors into gas production in the domestic market.