The Nigerian Shippers Council has said that the Federal Government is more than ever before committed to carrying out more reforms that would further make the nation’s seaports achieve a high level of efficiency that would engender competitiveness and the overall viability of the Nigerian economy.

Executive Secretary/CEO of the Council, Barrister Hassan Bello, who made the pledge, spoke in Lagos last week when members of the Nigerian Maritime Law Association led by the President, Mr. Chidi Ilogu paid him a courtesy visit at the Apapa headquarters of the council.

Bello also assured that the Council was deeply interested in increasing the contribution of the maritime industry to the national economy, which might not be possible if the ports are not efficient, viable and attractive to investors as well as being competitive with their peers within the West and Central African Sub-region..

According to him, the Federal Government was determined and is currently working towards achieve far-reaching reforms in the maritime industry in line with ongoing efforts at diversifying the economy, especially given the current economic realities in Nigeria.

Specifically, he disclosed that part of the reforms would focus on the ease of doing business at the port, which is also a cardinal policy of the Federal Government towards boosting and attracting foreign direct investment FDI, needed to grow the dwindling economy.

This is given the spiral effects of such increase in investment necessitated by the enhanced ease of doing business at the ports not only on the maritime industry but also on the national economy, especially in terms of job creation.

“This therefore explains why the Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has been reaching out to the stakeholders in order to enthrone a regime of international best practice for the maritime industry”, he said.

He however called on association to partner the council, especially in the areas of intiating maritime laws that would drive these new reforms.

“We need to have in place rules governing our economic, technical and safety operations in the industry, in line with international best practices. We all know the complexity of admiralty laws not only in Nigeria but also across the globe”..

“You know that investors want to see clarity in the maritime laws as well as in dispute resolution. So the association has a big role to play in terms of assisting in the council in its efforts at resolving trade disputes associated with the Hague Rules and the Hamburg rules”, Bello also said.

He challenged the association to come up with a concept on how to go about resolving both Hague and Hamburg rules, arguing that Nigeria needs laws that could enhance the expansion of the nation’s economy.

On Nigeria’s balance of trade, he argued that there was urgent to boost the nation’s international trade, especially exports as part of the economic diversification, adding that the maritime industry should be repositioned to support the export of agricultural products, which he believes is another way to diversify the economy.

He said: For us to have a robust and efficient judicial system to support our economic development, judges and lawyers should be abreast of contemporary developments in the maritime industry not only in Nigeria but also globally”.

It was in line with this feeling that the Minister of Transport recently constituted a committee to draw up modalities for the introduction of Admiralty Law into Nigerian Universities with the Secretariat domiciled at the council

Headed by the Director, Legal Services of the Federal Ministry of Transport, membership of the committee is draw from the Council, Nigerian Ports Authority, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and the Nigerian Universities Commission, among others.

Meanwhile, Ilogu while speaking during the event thanked the Executive Secretary for receiving his members and also commended the Minister of Transport for setting up the committee.

While pledging the active participation of its members in the activities of the committee, he however said that the council has a vital role to play in ensuring that Nigeria’s maritime industry is in tune with current global realities.