A frontline maritime stakeholder, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, has warned the federal government against laying too much emphasis on establishment of Deep Seaports across the nation, saying that its proliferation has the potential to impede capacity growth of the nation’s export. 27 ships with petrol, others to berth in Apapa, Delta ports Shittu, who is the immediate past National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, advised government to rather give priority attention to the development of Nigeria’s export base, and to ensure that only economically viable Deep Seaports are allowed, to forestall repeat of politically motivated port infrastructure.
Shittu, in an interview with Vanguard Maritime Report, expressed worry about the possible failure of the emerging deep seaports, which he said ordinarily is a welcome development based on critical indices, even as he tasked government to ensure that stakeholders are adequately carried along at the conception level to avoid waste of scarce resources and abandonment.
He stated: “This Lekki Deep Sea Port, like the one they are talking about at Badagry, Ibaka, Gelegele and the rest, when did we develop the idea that all we need to be doing is to establish new ports, because these things (new ports) seem to be planned to increase our level of imports without considering export that will turn around our economy, andmake our exchange rate firm and strong.
“This Lekki Deep Seaport is here, Olokola Deep Seaport is there, some people are encouraging Deep Seaport in Koko and Warri,… do you know how much it takes to maintain a deep seaport? Deep Seaports are not something to be dredged like Calabar and Warri seaports that have been giving us problems because of silting. Why do you start thinking of establishing other deep seaports that will run into trouble within five years? Nobody thinks of the future, we only think of now”, he lamented.
Speaking further, he noted that the 2009 port concession failed because stakeholders were not adequately carried along, leaving the critical decisions only to the few relevant government agencies.
He stated: “During the port concession many things were not factored in. I was the National Publicity Sectary of ANLCA, we kicked against a concession that will not involve the stakeholders, it was just the Bureau of Public Enterprises, Nigerian Ports Authority and Shippers’ Council. Chief Adebayo Sarumi, then Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority,NPA, was saying it will do well for us; but at what cost? he asked.
He has finally admitted the resultant balkanization, that what the reform threw up is not the way ports should be, and that is why we don’t have holding bays, export bays, that’s not the way it is done