What you are about to read is the entry of ASUDEMADE HABEEBULLAH which earned him the second runner-up appellation at the 2017 Maritime Day/NIMASA Essay Competition Award ceremony held at Eko Hotels and Suites.
On February 14 1990 when the cameras of Voyager 1 captured earth from about 6 billion kilometers away, earth, which harbors countless number of humans, had become what Carl Sagan referred to as a "pale blue dot". While this may actuate in our minds, the realization of how little we count in the entire universe, the relevant question remains why earth had become a blue, and not a yellow dot, which finds expression in the predominance and enormity of water on the surface of earth. Little wonder water is said to constitute about 70% of what earth entails .
Water, unarguably, constitutes a bulky part of our being that cannot be done away with. It is a basic necessity to the existence of man on the face of earth. Consequently, the sea, as a component therein, is one of the three major means of transportation, through which the Maritime industry survives. The sea is to Maritime industry what soul is to the body. It serves as the means by which ships see the shores of different ports. While sea is the oxygen of Maritime industry, it is worthy of note that the bulk of global trade is actually done by way of sea, thereby making the maritime industry directly connected to our daily trades and transactions. Very notably, around 80 per cent of global trade by volume and over 70 per cent of global trade by value are carried by sea and are handled by ports worldwide .
Consequent upon this, the Maritime industry is invariably one of the hugest employers of labour across the world. Its enormity takes a substantial toll on the people of the cosmos, as It has sizeably contributed to different countries' gross domestic product (GDP). In 2012 alone, the Maritime sector directly contributed about €56 billion to the GDP of the European Union, while employing about 590, 000 people in the European Union .
However, as economically reinforcing as the Maritime industry is, it also has its embers of buoyancy doused at the instance of some prevalent and peculiar shortcomings. While the Maritime industry plays a major role in the economy of certain states, the same Maritime industry is placed in a minor row, when it comes to economic relevance in some other states. Realizing the key position this sector plays, it becomes imperative to find ways of keeping the sector efficient. This births the need to address the challenges faced by the sector and create a nexus among various ports, as a way of laying the foundation for uniformity and coherence in development.
Firstly, the Cabotage Act should be revisited in countries where it has failed. The Act, for example in Nigeria, was enacted in 2003 to regulate the invasion of foreign vessels from hindering the business of local vessels. The primary aim is to afford local maritime industries the opportunity to have major control over their country, thereby providing an avenue for their business. The Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), which finds expression In Nigeria under section 42 of the Act, was also established to provide financial aid and assistance to indigenous operators in ship acquisition and other related necessities. Ths has, however, either failed or not so successful, as the activities of Nigerian industries in marine transportation are yet to improve. Thus, if this Act is enacted and followed up in all budding maritime states, it will definitely serve as a fertile ground for healthy growth.
Secondly, the relationship between the public and private sectors, as regard the maritime industry should be encouraged. Transport and trade facilitation are two key things that determine the efficiency of a maritime industry. They require good managerial and operational skills. It has, however, been shown that government agencies do not usually possess these skills, which have been developed by private operators . Taking this into consideration, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA)'s Head of Corporate Communications, Mr Isichei Osamgbi, has said that once the government refloats The National fleet, private sectors will drive the process while government will serve as facilitator . If such a public-private relationship is facilitated across countries, it will also aid in uniformly developing the industry.
On a general note, the problem of piracy should be more rigorously addressed. Considerable measures have been taken in past years to curb the incessant occurrences of piracy. The maritime industry still, however, has to find a way to heavily provide security against piracy, as an attack on the maritime industry is a global attack. Piracy has the effects of disrupting the maritime economy. Usually, it leads to the re-routing of vessels which is an additional expense, and the fact that piracy has become perpetual is making such expenses constant. It also leads to ship owners spending huge sums in acquisition of weapons to secure their vessels. Thus, a more serious address should be taken on piracy, to prevent the maritime economy from potential disruption, which definitely will not favour all-round development.
In the end, an attack on a sector that controls about 80% of the global trade is definitely a global attack. As such, the maritime industry has to chart a way, as to connecting ships and people across various ports, foreign or indigenous. By so doing, they would have prepared a fertile ground for healthy development.
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United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Public and private partnerships for the Development Infrastructure to Facilitate Trade and Transport. 29th of September, 2009.
5. Reported on Vanguard via