Nigeria is losing about $9bn annually to foreign shipowners because the country has no single vessel that is involved in international freight services, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) stated on Thursday.
According to the council, Nigeria makes nothing from the billions of dollars spent by importers and exporters as freight fees to owners of vessels, as no Nigerian or Nigerian firm has a ship that moves cargo internationally.
The Executive Secretary, NSC, Hassan Bello, who disclosed this at a one-day seminar for transport and aviation correspondents in Abuja, however, noted that the government was working hard to make Nigerian firms own vessels in order to partake in the revenue being generated from global freight services.
He said, “In 2015 alone, Nigeria spent $9bn on freight and not a single ship is owned by a Nigerian or Nigerian firm. Meaning that this huge revenue went to foreign vessel owners and this development may have lingered.
“However, with the support of the government in diversifying the economy, we have been engaging stakeholders in order to do something about this. So we are targeting that in about three years’ time, Nigerians will own and operate vessels and benefit from the revenue there.”
Bello noted that a committee that was charged with the mandate of actualising the establishment of a national shipping line had been inaugurated by the government, as he explained that with no Nigerian vessel to share in the movement of cargo on the high sea, Nigeria had continued to suffer massive capital flight.
The Nigerian Shippers’ Council boss stressed that about five million jobs could be created in the industry if the estimated $9bn that had been going to foreign shipowners was invested in the sector.
He said the Federal Government’s move to establish a national shipping firm would be in partnership with the private sector.
Bello, who also spoke on other arms of the transport business in Nigeria, revealed that about 19,000 employees were currently working on the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.
On the movement of cargo from the Lagos ports to the Kaduna Inland Dry Port, he stated that trains had been moving goods from Lagos State to the facility in Kaduna and back, adding that the service only started recently.
The Nigerian Shippers’ Council executive further stated that by next week, the NSC would commence the search for investors who would invest in the construction of Truck Transit Parks in Enugu and Kogi states.