By Innocent Orok
The Executive Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Barr. Hassan Bello has advocated for a strategic committee to be set up by the Federal Government to boost export trade in Nigeria after the Coronavirus pandemic.
Bello said the committee should comprise of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Exports Promotion Council (NEPC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) with the aim of driving the Nigerian economy through exports trade post Covid19.
The NSC boss who made the call while presenting safety gears to maritime journalists ,also said the Nigerian ports from September ,2020 will begin to witness seamless transactions as most of the terminal operators have digitalized their activities to deduced human contacts and too much influx of people into the ports.
The Council also called on the Federal Government to focus its attention on exportation for the sustenance of the Country’s economy.
He maintained that access to the nation’s seaports have been a major problem to trade facilitation, but with a designated terminal for export trade would encourage shippers to expedite actions in boosting exportation of Nigerian made goods effectively and efficiently.
He further harped on infrastructural development like access roads, rail , container holding bay among others to make Nigerian ports efficient and competitive .
Barrister Bello maintained that there was no other time to develop export than this present time as well as to simplify the processes for easy exportation of goods outside the Country.
“Export is going to be our main line now, because there is a lot of disruptions in the international supply chain on imports. Even China will not export what it used to export, they will like to keep it for their domestic use.
“Now is the time to look inwards and inward is not as in diversification, but deliberate attempt to look at where we have comparative advantage and that is exportation. We can’t import now and even if we import, the throughput will dwindle.
“We have lost revenue in oil and due to the vulnerability of oil, we have to look at exportation. Nigeria is vast and so rich, we would have been a substitute for China for raw materials which we are going to process. That is why we are calling on the government to focus on export.
“There were about 800 trucks of exports stranded outside some terminals in Apapa, but Shippers’ Council has brokered with the terminals and now these trucks are going in.
“We want these exports to be evacuated because some of these exports are perishable and we cannot afford to have them on the roads and non oil export is very import for our economy..
“Export is very important. For non oil revenue in Nigeria for 2016, it was N344 billion, 2017, N629 billion, in 2018, we got N1.1 trillion and in 2019 N2.5 trillion . You can see it is rising. Then why can’t we build on this? Bello said.
Speaking further, he urged Maritime Journalists to observe all safety protocols as they are in the frontline of the Coronavirus pandemic . He said the media is in the forefront of the Covid19 battle and promised that the Council will support the media.
Bello also said the Council and other sister agencies is planing to establish and Isolate Test and Treat (ITT) Centre in Apapa to carter for any Covid19 case that may occur in the ports and Apapa environment in general.