AfCFTA could boost transportation sector in Nigeria, says Shippers’ Council boss, Bello


The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Barr. Hassan Bello has said that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement could be the spur that the Nigerian government may need to boost its transport sector.

Bello who stated this in his remarks at the 2nd Transport Leadership Lecture held in Lagos recently said that with two trillion naira economies, 1.2 billion people, 54 countries, the Nigerian population, cost of protection and operation provided by AfCFTA, Nigeria must begin to challenge itself in the area of transportation.

According to him,” Everybody knows that transport is the driver of this economy. We have challenges, a lot of it but they are not insurmountable. When I look at deficit in infrastructure for example, and someone said is it N3 trillion to make up our deficit, that means about N100 billion every year for the next 30 years and I am not downcast, what I see is opportunity. We should not be daunted by the challenges but we should be rejuvenated by the opportunities.

“We have to do a lot of things in various sectors of the economy and I think the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement could be the spur that we need. We are talking about a N2 trillion economies, we are talking about 1.2 billion people, we are talking about 54 countries, we are talking about our population, we are talking about cost of protection and operation and Nigeria must begin to challenge itself on this transportation.

“I have always said that we need to have imperial outlook to this negotiation, Nigeria is so big that it cannot be treated with other countries, we must have some advantages. As a matter of fact, the issue of the hub, Nigeria is already of the hub no matter how you twist the issue. Everything is focused on Nigeria and we will aim to have fair competition but leadership is extremely important.

“So, there are positives everywhere. As we struggle to see that these things are done; I call for sincerity because the port is a miasma of varied interests, everybody with his own. We have to reform the trucking system, we have to reform the cargo clearing, dwell time of cargo is below the regional average in Nigeria but then, we have to also represent the terminal operators as well as the shipping companies. We have to tell the government the truth that there are deficit in infrastructure and government has to create conducive atmosphere because the operating atmosphere is a little bit harsh.”

He however advised the stakeholders not to always lament about the rots in the industry especially when they gather at events but to look out for the bright side of the industry even as he submitted that a lot had been achieved in the industry through the various events organized by the stakeholders in the industry.

In his words,” The Cabotage law is as a result of these gatherings that we were able to craft, we were able to incorporate the Hamburg Rules because we come together to do this. We are coming in fact to craft NIMASA Act because of our coming together to do this. So, it is not all shriveling and crying, there are truly positive efforts that have been made by people around here and you should be proud of yourselves.”

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