The Nigerian Shippers’ Council has revealed that the maritime transportation sector contributes about N7tn to the national economy annually.

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The Executive Secretary, NSC, Hassan Bello, disclosed this to journalists in Abuja.

He also stated that the Federal Ministry of Transportation was working to connect the new Lekki port in Lagos by rail.

He remarked that the sector must be supported by the Central Bank of Nigeria to enable it to deliver more to the country economically.

He said, “I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the CBN to look towards our direction. It is intervening in the aviation, agriculture, movie or entertainment industries, and so on.

“Here is an industry that will give oil a run for its money if properly managed. We are talking about a N7tn per annum industry; that is the maritime transportation industry.

“So I want the CBN to look no further. The logistics chain must be supported and we have to export.”

The Shippers’ Council boss stated that 80 per cent of the receipts by the Nigerian Customs Service was derived from the maritime industry.

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Bello declared that the council was striving towards operating 24 hours at Nigerian ports, reckoning that the evacuation of cargo by rail from the ports in Lagos had cut down the cost of transporting containers.

He stated that the process to fully digitalise Nigerian ports had begun and that this would boost efficiency at the facilities.

The NSC boss said, “The port itself must be digitalised because we realise that the physical presence of people is slowing port operations. We need to have paperless ports.

“And we have terminals in Nigeria that are almost 80 per cent digitalised. So that is our focus now.”

He further disclosed that the various layers and agencies at the ports were being integrated into one system to support the emergence of fully digitalised ports in Nigeria.