The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) on Wednesday, said the maritime industry could create more jobs if well harnessed.
The National President of the association, Mr Tony Nwabunike, said that there should not be any fear of job loss in the maritime industry.
According to him, we have watched the shocking and ongoing devastating impact of the coronavirus disease on various sectors of the economy leading to massive job losses and general quake in the global economy.
Nwabunike noted that though not completely insulated from effects of the pandemic, the Nigerian maritime industry held potential to serve as the country’s low hanging fruits for economic growth, stability and survival
He said that unlike the aviation industry where government agencies including airlines were either mulling salary slash, workers lay-off, shrinking human capital needs, the maritime industry still held the ace as an indispensable mode of global trade and commerce
“Rather than worry over likelihood of job loss, customs brokers, freight forwarders, truck owners, chandlers and other ancillary service providers in the industry should gravitate toward keeping themselves abreast with virtual presence and operations in the ports.
“At ANLCA, we have always advocated for a modern port regime with lesser amount of persons coming into port areas.
“This will now be a fast track drive because persons and businesses can meet virtually, submit, process and receive documents online without leaving the comfort of our homes and offices.
“While the port cannot be virtual, our presence can be. We have been partaking in Webinars where we communicate effectively, take business and corporate decisions without traveling.
“The haulage section will always be there; it cannot be taken over virtually. We only foresee a regime of improved rail services,” he said in a statement.
Nwabunike said that the best way to harvest post-COVID-19 benefits from the ports was through exports, cutting unnecessary imports, avoiding waste and the need for private investment in rail coaches.
He pointed out that for exports, Nigeria as a matter of urgency must develop non-oil exports to keep jobs up, saying that much more was needed to be done in the agricultural sector.
Nwabunike said that as a country, we should identify products for which we had comparative advantage, as Nigerian-made electric cables had been noted for being of higher quality than most imported ones. Government should be the number one buyer.
He called for urgent steps to be taken to refine crude oil locally and stop the importation of refined petroleum products.
“That we have cotton but still depend on other countries to produce our clothing needs is a result of a fall in the local textile industry.
“The industry is dying partly due to lack of power as it was discovered that it was cheaper to manufacture textiles outside Nigeria than doing it in the country.
“Our textile industry alone can produce jobs running into millions for 200 million people and exporting to other countries. Rice self-sufficiency is still a struggle even after its removal from Foreign Exchange and ban from importation through land borders.
“Whereas the railway is government-owned. There is need to allow private investment in ownership of coaches to move cargoes from dry ports to the seaports and vice versa.
“This mode of transport if encouraged and opened for the private sector, will bring about cheaper and safer mode of cargo movement within the country,’’ Nwabunike said.