By Ray Ugochukwu
If there is any time the country is in dare need of of a national Shipping Carrier it is now. This is to stem the monopolistic domination of the sector by foreign shipping lines that slam undue charges on goods destined to Nigeria.
This is the position of the immediate past National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, in a chat with our correspondent at the weekend. He regretted the non-establishment of a national carrier for the country, a venture he noted, would have been of immense benefits to Nigerian Shippers.
Prince Shittu expressed worries on the delay of setting up the national carrier and blamed it on government bureaucracy.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Skelas Nigeria, suggested that government could utilise the proceeds of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) as the foundation for the takeoff of the firm. He however cautioned that it should not be run as either a private venture or Federal Government concern to avoid a repeat of the past.
“Government should assemble a team of consultants with international touch to set the modalities for the establishment of the company that will run on behalf of the Federal Government. The ownership structure should be by way of sale of shares to the public. People like us can buy shares. I don’t mind buying 500,000 shares if the ownership is well structured”, he said.
He insisted that management was key to the survival of the company, adding that with an outfit like that Nigerian shippers would now have a choice as to their cargo carriage.
On the aviation side, the former ANLCA boss suggested government’s adoption of Air Peace as the National Carrier.
“Why not use Air Peace as a national carrier? What needs to be done is to give
Air Peace the backing by adopting it as national carrier and watch it grow”, Shittu advised.
Commenting on the establishment of a Maritime Bank in the country, he remarked that the issue was not setting up a structure like that but having the requisite capacity to deliver.
In his words, “Don’t we have industrial bank in Nigeria? How many industries has it funded? Don’t we have mortgage bank here, how many houses has it funded? It’s a matter of having the capacity.
“If one oil tanker catches fire today, how many insurance companies have the financial muscle to cover the loss? The problem is having the capacity to operate and not just establishing a structure”.