Mr Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary, Nigeria Shippers Council, on Sunday said the country was losing $9.1billion yearly on freight revenue that could have accrued to its treasury.
He said the amount was being lost to foreign ships.
Bello, who spoke on the feasibility of the proposed National Carrier, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos that foreign shipping lines were milking the country dry.
“We need to have 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.
There are also lack of government infrastructure and government support.
“Fourthly, unwillingness or inability of Nigeria’s private sector to support this very important enterprise is another issue,” 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, ship building, 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.