By Foster Obi
Captain Warredi Enisuoh is an aircraft pilot and a ship captain. This makes him a rare breed.
The first thing you discover when you engage him is that he is very versatile and knows almost everything.
Except that Nigeria is highly politicized, this is the kind of persons that should run our maritime agencies because of his bundle of talents.
He is readily up to date and at home with facts and figures especially as regards other climes.
He gave DFCNews his assessment of the maritime industry and what 2022 will look like.
“2022 is going to be challenging for Nigeria. When I compare our commercial maritime indices for the region, Nigeria seems to be very slow on reforms especially in the maritime sector.
“The dependence on Lagos port is going to be stronger as not much is being done in the Delta Port, in terms of expansion, dredging and improvements on their viability. The insecurity in the east and its proximity to the Delta will force more foreign ships to drop their cargoes in Lagos.
“We haven’t improved our hinterland capacity. There are literally no functional ICD’s and IDP’s to help decongest the ports. Road and rail networks in and out of the ports have neither been improved nor given the right attention
“Unless the Lekki Deep Sea Port comes on stream, Nigeria will see lots of its containers being dropped off in Togo and Benin Republic who seem to be enjoying continuous reforms and good hinterland.
Ships are getting bigger and with draft restrictions, Nigeria may end up getting a reasonable size of their goods from neighbouring countries. We will be loosing businesses and jobs to those countries as well.
Ships are getting bigger with increasing trade volumes.
Bigger ships are becoming cheaper to operate based on economics of scale. The difference in operating costs between a ship carrying 4,500 containers and 20,000 containers is only about $1,000 per day.
“Bigger ships sink deeper into the water, thereby requiring deeper waters. So, if we don’t dredge our waters to greater depths, these ships cannot enter our ports. And they will be forced to drop our cargoes in neighbouring countries like Togo, where smaller ships can go and bring them to us and trucks by road.
“Going into a pre-election year, there is going to be very little achievements in the sector. Piracy and sea robbery will possibly be up, unless the Niger Delta Elders continue in the current stride of weeding their communities of criminal elements. The presence of foreign Navies will increase as we haven’t shown any form of capacity that we can handle the insecurity
“Due to the up coming elections in 2023, there’s a possibility that some parastatals may see changes in their executive management. This could cause low appetite on investors as our culture of continuity is quite low compared to climes where institutions governing operations and processes are very strong.
“Investors may want to hold back until there are signs of stability before diving in to take advantage of Nigeria’s maritime potentials
“Unless we open our Cabotage waters to foreign flagged ships, more Seafarers with Nigerian certificates are likely to go jobless, as our certificate is not recognized internationally. And besides, local ship growth is very low.”
Asked what he thinks about the Deep Blue project since it was launched, he said
“We have had attacks after the project was launched. All the responses on record were provided by foreign Navies.
“Obviously it can be fine tuned with the involvement of the private sector.
“Government is too bureaucratic to effectively prosecute anti-piracy operations and missions.
“On whether the release of long withheld cabotage fund by NIMASA will encourage local growth, Warredi, a former Director in Charge of Shipping Development at the Agency said, “ The much acclaimed Cabotage fund will not buy you the number ships needed to get our economy running. Don’t let anyone deceive you.
“The Cabotage act was copied from the Jones Act (USA). And as at today, even the United States of America has made amendments allowing foreign ships to participate in its Cabotage trade with certain restrictions if I’m not mistaken.”
Foster Obi is Editor dfcnewsng.com
Picture: Captain Warredi Enisuoh