Margaret Ulanmo, Lagos

Maritime Transport is critical to sustaining global commerce as it is the conduit through which economic, social and political interactions are fostered. It is therefore understandable that some degree of technical skills, competence and professionalism will be required to safely man vessels for such engagements.

Maritime, otherwise known as shipping business, has for centuries remained the mainstay of some nation’s economies. Countries such as Britain and the Philippines have successfully grown their Maritime sector to enviable heights. include countries like Britain and Philippines. These countries, despite having a meaningful quantity of natural resources such as crude oil, have exploited and harnessed non-oil avenues to develop and grow their economies.

The economic successes recorded in non-oil exporting countries has inspired Nigeria in more ways than one, to the extent that the current administration of Nigeria has taken conscious steps to gradually steer the country’s economy away from the present over-dependence on crude oil as its mainstay. Policies have now been articulated to explore and tap the country’s abundant non-oil sectors, among which is the maritime sector.

For a fact, Nigeria as a political entity is not new to activities of the Maritime sector. The Apapa Wharf has for years, served as a hub of economic activities, providing formal and informal jobs to over a million residents in Lagos, the country’s commercial nerve centre.

This perhaps, informed the focus on the training and development of a robust Seafarer base, particularly during the life of the now liquidated Nigerian National Shipping Line between 1961 and 1992.

A number of steps taken by government recently are conclusive evidence of government’s genuine commitment to revamping the Maritime transportation infrastructure.

Plans are also underway to commence the haulage of bulk sugar, cement and petroleum products among other bulk products, to different parts of the country.

In terms of computerisation of the port system, the Nigerian Ports Authority, is working on a new port information system, which will control access, reduce cost and enhance revenue generation.

Another prospect is the increasing off-shore oil exploration and production activities, which have increased the vessel requirements to meet demands in the sector. Other areas with significant projection include the fishing sector, the manning of inland waterways, crafts and coastal tankers.

The Maritime transport industry is central to the livelihoods of every one in many parts of the world. From agriculture, oil products, to chemicals, there is increasingly a heavy reliance on the sector for industrial growth, especially because the opportunity to exchange goods across national boundaries is facilitated by Maritime operations, administration and control.

Today, Nigeria is a beacon among leading players in the global Maritime industry, with a high net worth potential as well as prospects beyond the present gains of the oil and gas market.

Undoubtedly, the prospects for the future of the Nigerian Shipping industry remain very bright despite the manpower constraints.

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency however, continues to reassure investors of its commitment to positively contribute to building the requisite manpower to close the gaps and stamp Nigeria’s triple A rating in the maritime sector.

Given the dwindling revenues accruing to the country from the oil and gas sector, and the non-sustainability of the sector in the long term, Nigeria is indeed, walking the right path to economic sustainability and profitability.