The Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, has identified lack of indigenous shipping lines as one of the factors undermining Nigeria’s drive to improve her exports.

The Council’s Executive Secretary, Hassan Bello, who expressed this position while presenting a paper titled ‘The Role of Port Economic Regulator in Promoting Export Trade in Nigeria’ at the first anniversary lectures and honours organised by Searchlight Media Concept, publishers of Global Searchlight Magazine in Lagos, said that the Council was determined to reverse the ugly trend.

He disclosed that the Council was already exploring all options to establish Nigerian vessel fleet to transport Nigerian cargoes, adding that when this is achieved, it will reduce the high freight rate currently being paid by Nigerian shippers.

Represented at the forum by the Council’s Director, Special Duty, Ignatius Nweke, the Executive Secretary said that the Council had also intervened in the implementation of the container weighing policy to ensure that unnecessary expenses were not transferred to shippers.

According to him, the Council is also committed to ensuring zero rejection of Nigeria’s produce by organising regular sensitisation and enlightenment programmes to educate shippers on exports best practices as part of its export promotion initiatives.

Bello hinted that various interventions by the NSC had resulted in increase in the nation’s export volumes in the past few quarters.

Citing data from the National Bureau of Statistics to buttress his claim, the NSC boss explained that the nation recorded N3.9 billion worth of exports in the last quarter of 2017, translating to recorded value growth of 9.35 percent over the volume recorded in the third quarter of the same year and 31.27 per cent over the one recorded in the corresponding period of 2016.

Providing further details on the export volumes and value, he added that agricultural exports grew in value by 54.9 per cent, amounting to N44.7 billion compared to N16.5 billion recorded in the same period in 2016.

Similarly, Bello disclosed that raw materials exports in the quarter under review were 71.7 percent higher in value than the value recorded in the same quarter of the preceding year.

This is even as he explained that solid minerals, manufactured goods exports recorded N309.25 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017 while crude oil and other oil products grew over the 2016 export figure by 57.6 per cent and 57.75 percent respectively.

On what the Council is doing to reduce haulage cost, which had risen by 600 per cent in the last few months, Bello hinted that the Council had been meeting with relevant stakeholders over the months with a view to reducing the haulage cost to the barest minimum.

The NSC boss attributed the high haulage cost to truck operators’ taking advantage of the bad state of the roads to increase the cost, assuring that the Council will work with all stakeholders to reduce the haulage cost and other charges.