By Steve Agbota
The President of Nigerian Shipowners Forum, Mrs Margret Orakwusi, has warned that about 10,000 seafarers working on Nigerian fishing trawlers may lose their jobs in the next two months over rising coast of diesel to power their boats and run their cold rooms.
Orakwusi who was the former President of Nigerian Trawler Owners Association (NITOA) disclosed this at a stakeholders meeting in Lagos last week.
Given the reasons behind the assertion, she explained that the cost of diesel has skyrocketed from N150 per liter to N800 per litre in less than two years, adding that the diesel crisis has increased the operational cost of trawling business among other challenges. “Most of our trawlers have left the country, the remaining ones in the country, operationally are less than 20 per cent, and that is not a thing of pride, but this is exactly where we are.
“We all know that we use AGO (diesel) 24/7 to power all the equipment on the vessel, each fishing trip lasts 45-50 days. “Now, less than two years after we bought diesel for N150 per liter, it is now selling at N800 per litre, an indication that nobody can survive under such a business environment,” she added.
According to her, “about 90 per cent of our products are exported to markets where we are just managing one percent shares. So we cannot even pass on this excessive cost of production to the end users.
“So, we are calling on government to provide incentives to reduce the impact of what we are going through. I have personally tried to do ‘Mother Christmas’ by trying to pay people for not doing anything, because the trawlers are tied down for about four months now like every other companies. In two months time, we might have about 10,000 people out the job and market, and this is direct employment.
So, we need incentives and reduction in taxes we pay, which is what the government can do to keep business business afloat,” she stated. She said various agencies should facilitate trade and businesses, they should not be competing, there shouldn’t be unnecessary pressure on them for revenue generation.