The Minister of Transport, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, on Monday said that the maritime industry had the capacity to generate N500 billion revenue yearly for the nation, excluding customs revenue.
Amaechi made the disclosure during a one-day Summit organised by Tell Magazine and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) in Lagos.
He said that the shipping sub-sector was a major aspect of the maritime industry, adding that the sector remained crucial to the economy as the second revenue earner for government.
Amaechi said that the petroleum industry which had been the mainstay of the economy depended largely on shipping, without which the product evacuation would be impossible.
He said that shipping was the backbone of oil and gas productions and marketing.
“Statistics has shown that over 80 per cent of global oil trade is transported by ships, while in the case of Nigeria, it is 100 per cent.
“The shipping sub-sector of the maritime industry is estimated to be worth over 3 billion dollars annually.
“It is therefore expedient to stress that transport is demand-driven and government in its commitment to shipping, will consider growth and development of the industry,” the minister said
He urged the Executive Secretary of the NSC, Mr Hassan Bello, to organise a Stakeholders Forum before July to move the sector forward.
Amaechi said that change was institutional, adding that government expected that the maritime sector would move forward and be vibrant.
“I believe that there is no economy without transportation. Even before the introduction of technology, people transported goods from one place to another either by putting it on their heads or by bicycles.
“The kind of change we are expecting is how transport sector can generate more revenue for government,” the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes Amaechi as saying.
He said that government was recording success in the railway sector, adding that before March, the railway contract between Abuja and Kaduna would be test-run.
Amaechi said that before the end of 2016, there would be normal operation of rail line between South-South and South-West.
He said that this would reduce traffic on the road.
The minister said that the Federal Ministry of Transport was working with the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to move cargoes through Lagos to Calabar, Akwa-Ibom, Lokoja and other seaports in the country.
He said that there was need for practical steps in formulating a holistic policy that would address a number of issues and difficulties facing the industry across the board, including ineffective laws.
Amaechi bemoaned poor infrastructure, human capacity challenges and lack of political will to engineer fundamental reforms.
Also speaking, an Assistant Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Mr Nsebong Akpabio, urged maritime stakeholders to tap all the potential in the maritime industry.
Akpabio said that there was need to join hands with government to re-position the nation.
He urged stakeholders to do what should be done in the industry to put the country in proper shape.
“Within a short period, accident would be reduced on the roads and Nigeria would be an investment haven through the collective efforts of everybody,” NAN quotes Akpabio as saying.
The Chairman of the Summit and a former Minister of Information, Mr Frank Nweke, said the summit was actually vital to the survival of the economy.
Nweke said that the summit would assist stakeholders to improve more and make sure that the industry was diversified to create more jobs for our teeming youths.
In his address, Mr Hassan Bello commended the minister for finding time to attend the summit.
Bello said that the NSC had a synergy with the press and promised that the council would continue to have more sensitisation with critical stakeholders in the maritime industry. (NAN)