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Group Seeks Reform of Maritime Sector

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November 23, (THEWILL) – Concerned by the myriad of challenges against operational efficiency in the nation’s maritime sector, an advocacy group has embarked on a monthly maritime breakfast briefing to articulate views and create ideas that provide strategic policy inputs to reverse the situation and enhance opportunities for economic development.

The forum which attracts stakeholders, operators, regulators and academics in the maritime sector, as well as the media, is held at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos to review important developments in the sector and listen to guest speakers.

It is moderated by Prof. Pat Utomi, Founder/CEO, Utomapp Holdings Limited, the convener.

The meeting, which lasts for about one and half hours, focuses on a particular area of concern with debates and conversations centring on the theme to elicit practicable solutions which would be compiled into a database for policy makers.

Topics discussed in previous sessions include ‘Security in Nigerian Waterways’, ‘Harmonisation of Stakeholder Goals for Synergy’, ‘Economic Trends on Maritime Sector: Opportunities and Challenges’, ‘Regulator as Economic Growth Facilitator’, among others. According to the convener, the December edition will focus on the theme: ‘Inter-Agency Cooperation for Ports Operation Effectiveness”.

Presentations are made by SBM Intelligence on current and strategic issues to provide data that guide participants in their debates and help to determine the theme for future sessions.

Addressing the participants in the recent edition of the maritime breakfast briefing for November, a top member of the Nigerian security service spoke extensively on oil theft which has robbed Nigeria of hundreds of billions of Naira with worsening dimensions to its fiscal challenge.

He thanked the convener for creating the forum which he said would help in ventilating ideas to help the authorities curb the lingering challenge of oil theft.

The security expert explained that the government was fighting the oil theft from its originating three dimensions namely, stealing of the product by artisans, stealing from the vessels, and pipeline vandalism by and in collaboration with locals.

He noted that the anomaly leads to prolonged production shutdown by companies which runs into huge losses with adverse effects on productivity and a huge threat to the nation’s oil revenue, the mainstay of the economy.

He also described as a misconception the idea that the deep blue project has reduced piracy, adding that the efforts of Nigeria’s security agencies had helped in curtailing sea piracy as well as moving against those behind the oil theft.

He argued that the maritime operating environment in the 21st century requires municipal framework and strategies for integrated information frameworks.

All these put together, he stated, would help to curb piracy adding that the nation’s security agencies had introduced an initiative called “Total Spectrum Maritime Strategy” with facilities that are applied specifically to the threats in the sector.

He said that fora like the maritime breakfast briefing offer opportunities to share ideas and educate the members of the public on the efforts being made towards effective maritime security for the nation’s economic development.

Participants agreed that Nigeria is under-utilizing its blue sea economy due to a myriad of challenges bordering on governance, environment, human capital among others.

They noted that Nigeria cannot maximise its maritime potentials without owning its own ships because, as a participant noted, he that controls the sea controls the world.