Stakeholders have disclosed that the inadequate bunkering activities are costing the country about N200bn monthly.
In separate interviews with The PUNCH in Lagos on Monday, stakeholders stressed the need for the country to build capacity in bunkering.
A ship chandler is a retail dealer specialising in providing ship supplies or equipment.
According to the President of Nigeria’s Licensed Ship Chandlers Association, Dr Martin Enebeli, it is wrong to equate oil theft to bunkering.
He claimed that some security agencies had failed to understand the difference between oil theft and bunkering.
He said, “You cannot equate oil theft to bunkering. Bunkering is statutory. If you are supplying ships with petroleum products, whether it is automotive gasoline oil or any other thing, you are bunkering. Bunkering is an oil nomenclature. And Nigeria is losing between N200bn to N300bn monthly to the inefficiency of bunkering operations in the country.”
More so, the National Coordinator of Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Importers and Exporters Coalition, Osita Chukwu, said the fluctuating exchange rate had been making it difficult for the crew members to plan their spending, adding they currently stock their vessels before coming into the country.
According to him, the country may lose around N1tn to this challenge, if the forex scarcity is not addressed before the end of the year.
“The dollar is high. When you look at the exchange rate by which the freight forwarders clear their goods, you will discover it is high. What they are saying is that whatever the exchange rate is in the parallel market, that is what will be used to clear cargoes. It means foreigners coming to the country with a vessel will stock more than they used to reduce their need for local chandlers,” he stated.
Chukwu said that foreigners had taken over about 70 per cent of ship chandelling jobs in Nigeria.
“The country is losing heavily now. It will lose over N1tn before the end of the year if they do take care of the sector. Foreigners have taken over about 65 per cent to 70 per cent of the sector. Other climes help their citizens to go through these processes. But ours is not like that. We struggle to take care of everything,” he added.
The founder of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, Mr Lucky Amiwero, blamed the lack of capital for the scarcity of chandlers in the country.
“There are many challenges. One is that the ship chandlers are under customs. It is difficult to run a business in this country. As ship chandlers, you are also involved in spare parts of ships and most of them do not have enough capital for that. It is quite capital intensive and sometimes it is not encouraging.”
“People are losing faith in this kind of job. So many people have left the job. They supply anything missing from the ship. Some ships when they are leaving their countries these days prepare very well. Many of them don’t stay long,” he concluded.