…says lack of infrastructure denies Nigeria Int’l Shippers Council Membership
…says Nigeria didn’t prepare for the development of its ports
Foremost Maritime Expert and Shipper, Rev. Jonathan Nicole, has attributed the decay in the Industry to concession of the ports and lack of adequate infrastructure, saying that Nigeria did not prepare for the development of its ports.
Nicole who was speaking to TimeNews Reporters, an online media platform, on the occasion of Nigeria at 60 in his office in Apapa, recently, said it is the lack of infrastructure that has denied Nigeria membership of the International Shippers Council.
Going down memory lane, he said it was like Nigerians took over from the Colonial masters and started to destroy things that were earlier built and developed.
His words: “Maritime at 60; I must say that from the general perspective the past is better than now and to summarise it we have nothing to rejoice at Maritime at 60. It is like we came after the Colonial masters left, to destroy things that were built.
“In those days we had railway and barges on our waters and vessels coming to discharge cargoes. The only thing we added was the Tin Can Island. In those days we had the dockyard busy; we had a lot of seafarers that were really very glad to work for the Industry and we had the ship captains that used to live in this Apapa and areas the seafarers can stay to have fun.
“The whole area in Apapa used to be holding bay for trucks and we never had traffic jam and congestions neither did we have trucks littering all over. The clearing situation then wasn’t as harrowing as it is now.
“We never had problem with terminal operators; there was that friendship because without the shipper there would be no port business so the shipping lines were our close friends and we never had problems with them.”
However, Nicole revealed that at the early stage of indigenisation most of the development started fizzling out, with the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) as the first casualty.
“There was a whole lot of infrastructure on ground; I must say that when indigenisation began to come in most of these things began to fizzle out. We woke up one morning for our ports to be concessioned out and NPA was licensed as terminal operator and we were having fun and we thought we were building higher institution.
“But when they took over in the early eighties they will bring their friends to come and handle technical matters and that was how the decay of the Maritime Industry started and most of us started looking out to Kotonou. It was a gradual decay up till this time so Shippers Council was set up to protect shippers in the Industry.
“This is the journey down; no good roads, traffic gridlock and delay in delivery of containers so Nigeria didn’t prepare for the development of its ports. You can see the decay was massive. This is the problem they have with becoming a member of the International Shippers Council; because the infrastructure is not there,” he explained.
He queried the introduction of special cargo, saying that if it was special then it should come through the air as airfreight.
Proffering solution to the Industry imbroglio, the Maritime expert said, if he had his way, he would ask NPA to come back as terminal operators. “What is NPA doing at the Port? It has taken its toll. NPA has sold its powers through the Concession agreement.
“For me the first step to solving these problems is to cancel the concession. I’ve always been calling for the withdrawal of the concession because it’s not favouring anybody,” he stated.
He noted that during the time of former President Goodluck Jonathan, based on request by stakeholders for the revival of the Industry, the Railway was revived because without the railway conveying cargo to the North and some other regions would be a problem.
Rev. Jonathan Nicole