SIFAX boss wants government reforms extended beyond ports

Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Group Executive Vice Chairman, SIFAX Group, owner of Ports and Cargo Handling Services Limited

Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Group Executive Vice Chairman, SIFAX Group, has stated that reforms in the maritime sector must go beyond the ports, saying that a holistic approach, including legislation, infrastructure, transportation, security and funding among others, must be adopted.

Afolabi, who was represented by Mr. Adekunle Oyinloye, Group Managing Director, SIFAX Group, stated this at the 2019 Taiwo Afolabi Annual Maritime conference held at the University of Lagos last week.  

According to him, “Nigeria’s maritime industry has overtime seen various policies such as the port concessioning reforms, truck standardization policies, cabotage law, maritime safety laws and several others with the sole aim of eliciting growth in the sector. But, may I say that while some of these policies have catapulted the industry to its next level growth, a strong implementation mechanism is strongly needed.”

Afolabi admonished government to come up with a strong implementation mechanism for its various policies and reforms which were necessary to accelerate growth. He called on the Federal Government to further fortify the nation’s coastline against maritime crimes.

“I will like to appeal to the Federal Government and its relevant agencies to further fortify the nation’s coastal areas and maritime boundaries against maritime crimes. I will not fail to give kudos to NIMASA and other agencies for getting the presidency to assent to the anti-piracy bill recently. It should not just end here alone; there should be a campaign for more funding for maritime security. The insecurity on the waterway has led to shipping lines introducing war risk surcharges on consignments heading to Nigeria,” he expressed.

Speaking at the conference, Barrister Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Shippers Council, noted that government is constantly ready through the various ministries to continually engage all stakeholders in the sector.

“First, I must commend the organisers of this event and add that we are ready to partner with all stakeholders including the universities in order to make sure that the maritime sector achieves its mandate. We believe that constant dialogue through a forum like this will help us bridge the missing links in the sector and move the sector to its next level growth,” Bello said.

In his speech, OtunbaKunle Folarin, Chairman, Nigerian Ports Consultative Council, explained Nigeria’s maritime sector has endowments that can transform the sector into becoming a leader in Africa.

He said: “Nigeria’s maritime domain consists of 932 nautical miles coastline, 12 nautical territorial waters, 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zones, international indigenous shipping average of 5307 vessel calls per year, 572 kilometer inland water ways, 16 functioning ports, 8 littoral states, 28 concessioned terminals and thousands of workforce in the port and maritime industry. These endowments gives us the edge to become the leading light in Africa. Government and all stakeholders must set a deliberate agenda on how these endowments can be properly harnessed to sustain the growth already achieved in the maritime sector. There is a new economic agenda for the maritime sector. This new agenda can be successfully executed with sustained port reforms and local participation policies.”

This conference, the fourth edition, is annually held by the University of Lagos in honour of Dr. Taiwo Afolabi.

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