Taiwo Afolabi Maritime Conference focuses on shipping cost, charges
Executive Vice Chairman, SIFAX Group, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi
BY FRANCIS EZEM
The 2018 edition of the Taiwo Afolabi annual Maritime Conference scheduled for August 17, 2018, will focus attention on the worsening cases of increasing cost of shipping services in Nigeria.
Recall that Nigeria’s seaports are believed to be the most expensive in terms of cost of operation and delivery of shipping services in the West and Central African sub-region, a development that makes the ports uncompetitive and impedes the nation’s emergence as a hub port in the sub-region.
The conference, which holds annually in honour of the Group Executive Vice-Chairman, SIFAX of the Group, Dr Taiwo Afolabi, is an initiative of the Maritime Forum, University of Lagos and the SIFAX Group.
Eminent maritime industry leaders, legal experts, academics, and university students drawn from about eight tertiary institutions are expected converge at the University of Lagos to discuss on the theme: “Port Cost & Ports Charges: A Recurring Decimal Under Port Reform Regime”.
Meanwhile, a former Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Chief Adebayo Sarumi, who supervised the port concession programme in conjunction with the Bureau of Public Enterprise BPE, which was partly designed to reduce operational cost at the ports has accepted to speak at the event, barring any last minute change in the scheme of things.
Also expected to speak at the one-day event is Chairman, Nigerian Ports Consultative Council PCC, Otunba Kunle Folarin, who leads lead other maritime experts and stakeholders at the third edition of the event.
According to a statement by the Corporate Affairs Manager of the Group, Muyiwa Akande, Chief Sarumi will chair the conference while Otunba Folarin will deliver the keynote address.
Other discussants expected at the event include Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello, Director-General, Nigeria Chamber of Shipping, Obiageli Obi, Executive Director, SIFAX Off Dock; Major Henry Ajetunmobi, immediate past national president of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, General Manager, office of the Managing Director, NPA Captain Ebubeogu Iheanacho and senior partners, Bloomfield Law Practice Mrs. Mfon Usoro and Adedoyin Afun, , among several others.
While speaking on the forthcoming event, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, said the need to deepen discourse around topical issues in the country’s maritime industry, as well as proffering practical solutions to them gave birth to the conference.
He said: “The third edition of the conference would dwell on issues on ports costs and charges. This is necessary in view of the constant bickering that has continually ensued between the port users, regulatory agencies, agents, importers on one hand and the terminal operators on the other hand despite the port reforms embarked upon in 2006 which aimed at making the Nigerian port system better. This has a negative economic impact for all stakeholders, including the government.
“Distinguished experts have been invited as speakers to provide practical roadmap that will lead to concrete and sustainable solutions to the problem. I look forward to the useful insights based on years of industry experience that they will bring to the conference. I am convinced that such insights would be useful to the industry, the government and participants.”
On her own part, Miss Bukola Familoni, President, Maritime Forum, said the conference would be beneficial both to the industry and the students due to its objective of being an avenue to stimulate intellectual discussions between maritime experts and the university community, especially students with interest in the maritime industry, on contemporary issues in the industry, both locally and internationally.