As the global maritime industry is showing good signs of revival after new deals and sector alliances last year, the port industry in Nigeria will still face some key challenges of water security and port infrastructure in the coming
There are strong indications that the maritime industry will continue with the challenges experienced in 2017. Such problems are piracy, gridlock, inadequate manpower, high cost of doing business and decayed infrastructure.
The industry is currently facing unfavourable rating on the ease of doing business as the ports have been declared as the costliest places to do business in the world.
Because of this, stakeholders have predicted that more Nigerian- bound cargoes would be diverted to Cotonou Port.
The country in its competitive bid has already concluded an agreement with the Port of Antwerp International (PAI),
a consultancy and investment subsidiary of Antwerp Port Authority, Belgium to manage the port. The deal is expected to be signed in early January 2018.
It is feared that with the increasing difficulty of doing business at the Nigerian ports and the latest reduction in charges by 27 per cent for transit cargoes coming to Nigeria by Cotonou Port, latest development would send more importers to the port of Cotonou for clearing processes.
More than 60 per cent Nigerian bound cargoes are reportedly diverted to Cotonou Port largely due to high Customs duties and poor clearing processes at the Nigerian ports.
However, the trend may change if the agencies saddled with the responsibilities of midwifing the industry carry on their promises of turning the industry around.
Such expectation include implementation of Single Window platform at port, import and export guideline, eradication of piracy to zero level on Nigeria waters, full rehabilitation of port access roads, favourable port
tariff structure, dredging of port channels among others.
To move the industry forward this year, one of such step is the implementation of single window platform to improve
trade facilitation in line with international best practices.
The platform is expected to be jointly launched in the first quarter of 2018 by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in order to sanitise and streamline documentation and financial activities of government agencies, operators and other stakeholders in the maritime and allied sectors.
Imports and export
Also, full implementation of all import and export guidelines,particularly, pallet system would take effect from January, 2018.
However, goods which have been loaded for shipment to Nigeria prior to this date would not be affected by the policy.