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Operator bemoams high cost of commercial fishing in Nigeria

Mrs Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi
Mrs Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi, a
former President of the Nigerian Trawler Owners Association (NITOA), has
attributed the high cost of commercial fishing in Nigeria to the absence of
fishing terminals in the country.

Onyema-Orakwusi  said in an interview in Lagos that commercial
fishermen were finding the business difficult because they were compelled to
provide all the needed facilities themselves.

“In Nigeria, if you want to
come into fishing you have to provide everything by yourself and for yourself.
“You have to provide a jetty
which now runs into billions; you have to have your own workshop – carpentry
workshop and mechanical workshop.
“You have to now have your own
dump where you put the AGO (Automotive Gas Oil-Diesel). You have to have your
cold room. You have to have everything you need.
“This is not what happens
abroad. Abroad, you have fishing terminals. Fishing terminals are dedicated to
provide services for the fishing industry whereby more players come in.
“The man making the rope would
have his own workshop. You do not have to run your own.
“Your vessel comes back from
sea, there is a company that can service (it) and then your vessel goes; you
pay as you go.
“You share all these facilities
and you pay for them. You do not have to own everything because it is making
the point of entry so expensive.’’
Onyema-Orakwusi, however,
alleged that efforts by the association to establish a facility for commercial
fishing were frustrated.
She said that if developed, the
facility at Kirikiri could create jobs and generate income for the government.
“We made a good case. Our
former President, Olusegun Obasanjo was listening to all of us.
“This was why they removed a
portion, Kirikiri Phase 2 and portion of Phase1.
“When they were doing the
concession agreement they left that as a dedicated area for the international
fishing terminal.
“Of course the rest is
history. One of the main reasons we went fighting for the facility is that this
is food.
“You cannot have a jetty for
fish or food and then have a cement factory by the side or have a tank farm
because of contamination.
“And again put everybody
together to encourage people to come in; it will be cheaper to operate and this
is a foreign exchange earner.
“It is a huge employer of
labour and fishing because what we like (to do) in this country is to ship raw
materials, no value addition and that is where you create the employment.

“And that is why you rely less
on imported goods.’’

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