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‘Buhari may leave without setting up national air or shipping line’
With the observed silence and epileptic mentions of government intentions to set up a national airline and shipping line as Buhari’s administration remains not up to three more years, strong indications are clear that both assets may not see the light of the day.
Apart from its rich history in global maritime trade, Nigeria has continued losing billions of dollars in freight to foreign shipping lines over the inability of the Nigerian government to successfully operate a vibrant national carrier to lift its crude oil.
At the moment, the country is losing over $17 billion annually in freight due the lack of indigenous vessels, considered critical and essential to trade facilitation worldwide.
This is particularly worrisome as sea trade is the country’s second-largest contributor to gross domestic product (GDP). In 1959 for instance, the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) was established by the Nigerian government to facilitate seaborne trade for the country. But despite some heavy investment and subsidies, the state-owned company was unable to compete with European shipping lines. Much of the investment went to enriching the political elite leading to the liquidation of heavily indebted NNSL in 1995 with all 21 its vessels sold. Since the liquidation of NNSL, Nigeria has not been able to re-establish another shipping line 26 years after.
Over these years, several committees have been set up to work out modalities to establish a sustainable shipping line, but to no avail as none of the committee has been able to come up with anything tangible.