Revisit Fish Terminal Project to save sector, create massive employment, association urges FG

 
Mrs Margaret Orakwusi, former President  NITOA
Fishing trawler owners in Nigeria have argued that a fish terminal will enable a steady development and growth of the sector to create massive employment and become an alternative revenue source for the economy.

Operators in the sector are, however, concerned that till date since 2007, nothing had been done to develop the fish terminal that government approved to take off at the Kirikiri Phase 2.
Mrs Margaret Orakwusi, a former President, Nigerian Trawler Owners Association (NITOA) bemoaned the dwindling fortunes of the fish trawling sector and called on the Federal Government to save the sector from its comatose state.
Onyema-Orakwusi expressed disappointment that the sector which according to her used to be ranked second among non-oil export foreign exchange earners for the country was now nowhere on the scale, a development she attributed to leadership negligence.
Orakwusi expressed concern that the sector had been suffering as a result of the activities of pirates operating on the nation’s territorial waters.
She said, “A couple of years ago, we had about 38 companies involved in deep sea fishing. Right now, we are less than 9. Nigeria had over 200 trawlers that was our fleet, right now; we don’t have up to a 100.
“We used to rank number two in the non-oil export foreign exchange earners for the country. I don’t even bother to ask for the statistics now. It is a business that has been left to die.”
According to her, the sector has lost billions of Naira investment, vessels and seamen, adding that investors were closing shops in Nigeria following lack of conducive operating business environment.
She said, “Nigeria’s loss is gain for other African countries because what investors did was just simply to relocate their investments and operations to other countries.”
Orakwusi’s lamentation is coming on the heels of allegation against the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) that it stopped the use of Kirikiri Lighter Terminal phase 2 from being converted as a consolidated fishing terminal.
The idea came up the port reform period and the aim was to make Nigeria a fishing hub in Africa.
It was gathered that the NPA refused to vacate the place as directed by the former President Olusegun Obsanjo in 2007.
After the concessioning programme, the landlord was said to have held on to Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, Phase 2 notwithstanding the directive that it should be handed it over to fishing companies.
The idea was sold to the then President Obasanjo by the leadership of fishing trawler Owner Association under Orakwusi as a way of boosting the nation’s fishing sector.
Observers believe that if the place had been used as fishing terminal, it would have created more employment opportunities for many Nigerians.
It was gathered that the terminal has become a playing ground for “marauding and ghost ships particularly of foreign origin that in addition to aiding piracy also deplete our fishing resources via illegal poaching.”
A visit to the terminal which used to be a hub in the West African sub-region showed that it is suffering dilapidation and desertion.