HeadlinesMaritime Business Absence of National Shipping Line threatens maximization of maritime potentials – Saraki By maritimemag July 6, 2022 ShareTweet 0 Abiola Seun The Federal Ministry of Transportation, on Tuesday, said the nation’s maritime sector has been unable to harness inherent potentials of creating jobs for teeming youth through freight and insurance earnings due to the absence of a National Shipping Line (NSL).Speaking at the 16th edition of the Maritime Seminar for Judges, the Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemi Saraki, said the seminar is important for speedy and efficient dispensation of maritime matters by the courts because timeliness is money in international commercial transactions.The maritime seminar for Judges is organised by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute (NJI), to equip and strengthen the capacity of Judges and Justices of the Federal and State High Courts, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.The judges and Justices are strengthened with contemporary knowledge of the complex and dynamic subject of Admiralty Law and Practice, as well as, the ever challenging dynamics of international trade as it affects the administration of Admiralty cases in Nigeria.The Minister, who was represented by the Director, Procurement of the Ministry of Transportation, Hussein Adamu, however, said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is looking into ways of encouraging the establishment of a private sector-driven national shipping line to ensure maximum exploitation of the potentials in the nation’s maritime industry.According to her, the nation’s maritime transportation is conducted by foreign shipowners, thereby, limiting the economic benefits accruable to the country and the sub-region.She said, “As you deliberate on the very topical issues slated for discussion during this seminar, may l remind you of the need for capacity building in the maritime industry. “It is a common knowledge that most of our maritime transportation is conducted by foreign shipowners, thereby limiting the economic benefits accruable to the nation and the sub-region in areas such as creation of jobs, freight and insurance earnings etc.“It is in the above regard that the development of a national fleet becomes imperative. “The present administration is looking into ways of encouraging the establishment of a private sector-driven national shipping line to ensure maximum exploitation of the potentials in our maritime industry. “A Ministerial Committee has been working on this important initiative and I look forward to having their concrete recommendations for immediate implementation.“May I reiterate the commitment of the Nigerian Government towards the implementation of various initiatives on the ease of doing business, including in the maritime sector in order to open up all the potentials of the Nigerian business environment.”The minister, also applauded the Nigerian Shippers’ Council for organising the seminar and stated that an efficient, lucid, predictable and stable legal system will attract investors to the maritime sector.“It is, therefore, commendable that this seminar has created a veritable forum where prominent jurists and legal luminaries come together to rub minds on how to enhance the competitiveness and economic viability of our maritime industry, not only through the capacity building of the judicial officers, but indeed also in tackling some of the crucial issues on the front burner of maritime discourse both locally and globally.”“This will no doubt increase the confidence of investors in the industry, since it is obvious that an efficient, lucid, predictable and stable legal system plays a very significant role in attracting investors.”“It is worth mentioning that this seminar series have contributed immensely in charting the policy direction of government in the maritime sector. “I am happy to state that Government will continue to rely on the important outcomes of this forum for policy enunciation.”On his part, while declaring the seminar open, the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, said the maritime law in Nigeria, which is a specialised area, has witnessed novel developments in recent past.He said the development has taken into consideration the importance of the maritime industry, as conventions like the Hamburg Rules as well as the enactment of important legislations like the Merchant Shipping Act have ensured speedy adjudication of maritime disputes before the courts. Ariwoola, however, urged the National Judicial Institute to deepen the collaborative engagement with the Shippers’ Council to aid the course of justice and enhance speedy dispensation of justice in Admiralty matters. Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the occasion, Hon. Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour (rtd), who commended the council for hosting the seminar for Judges, said full advantage must be taken for technological advancement including automation with its potential to eradicate corruption and other negative activities in the maritime sector.He, however, urged the Shippers’ Council to expeditiously and regularly come up with viable blueprints that will make the sector achieve maximum exploitation of the economic potentials inherent in the maritime industry“It is expected that the economic regulator will expeditiously and regularly come up with viable blueprints (whilst engaging fully with stakeholders) in the drive to achieve the maximum exploitation of the economic potentials of the maritime industry. Full advantage must be taken of technological advancement including automation with its potential to eradicate corruption and other negative activities in the maritime sector.“Corruption is a major bane of development and is counterproductive to maximum productivity and efficiency. ” Stakeholders must ensure that all hands are on deck to get rid of any fraudulent and corrupt practices in the industry. Corruption militates against development. “It increases the cost of doing business, limits economic growth, negatively impacts on social wellbeing, destroys and distorts processes and procedures, robs the government of legitimate revenue and gives the country a bad image globally.“A corrupt free economy requires lucid, clear, simple and predictable rules governing all economic activities. All hands must be on deck to ensure smooth and consistent transition to technology including automation. Automation reduces negative activities and can be a remedy for increasing the ease of doing business by diminishing human contacts and increasing efficiency. “The Economic Regulator will entrench transparency, accountability through the automation of our Ports. Government efforts towards repositioning the economy may be slow but we shall surely get there if we all join hands to move our economy forward. I am confident that all genuine efforts towards the improvement of the economy will continue to enjoy full support of the government,” he said. © 2022, maritimemag. All rights reserved.