Shipowners bemoan collapse of indigenous shipping firms
• Accuse NIMASA leadership of incompetence
• I will not disburse CVFF now, says Amaechi
Irked by Nigeria’s poor outing at the election into Category C of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council, and failure to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), ship owners under the aegis of Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), have flayed the leadership of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
SOAN President, Greg Ogbeifun, who spoke at the year-end workshop and dinner in Lagos, accused the Director-General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, of lacking competence to steer the maritime agency.
Ogbeifun, who expressed dismay that unfavourable policies have led to the collapse of many indigenous shipping companies in the last two years, said Nigeria’s woeful performance at the IMO was another big blow to the nation due to Peterside’s poor preparations.
He said: “We will be deceiving ourselves if we pretend not to know that the IMO and the rest of the world are aware that our maritime domain has remained a high security risk, and it is most unsafe for seaborne trade and activities due to piracy, hostage taking and kidnapping.
“That 22 years after the demise of the Nigeria National Shipping Line (NNSL), we have not been able to midwife the emergence of a Nigerian fleet, be it public, private or fleet resulting from Public Private Partnership.
“IMO has passed a vote of no confidence on our maritime administration, and if we do not do the right thing, which is taking the bold action of asking the leadership of the maritime administration to resign, or the government should sack them. If we don’t do that, the international community that has not accepted us into the council will believe we are not ready to change.
“Government should stop giving excuses why they failed, and look at issues in the industry. We have had an administration for two and half years in office, things have gone worst, they have not even visited our maritime institution in Oron. Instead, we are spending money abroad; the international community are laughing at us because they know we do not know what we are doing, and we are saying enough is enough,” he said.
Describing NIMASA as “extremely weak”, Ogbeifun argued that “instead of engaging and collaborating with stakeholders, shipowners, ship repairers and maritime security providers to grow the industry, they (NIMASA) only specialise in collecting levies and revenues, and meting out punitive measures on stakeholders. These include arrests, threats, and shutdown of ship repair yards with the accompanying consequences to the industry, which the international maritime communities and the IMO are observing.”
He also accused the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, of lacking the political will to implement the recommendations of the committee he set up to revamp, and restructure the maritime administration, and make it more attractive for international patronage.
He regretted that the nation’s cabotage fleet has diminished considerably despite the two per cent contribution of vessel owners to the “infamous CVFF” because “there has been no response from the maritime administration.”
However, Amaechi denied that the IMO election was lost due to NIMASA’s incompetence, but because of other factors, saying: “The issue is that I will not release that fund even if I would be removed tomorrow as the Minister of Transportation. Why won’t I release the fund? We gave over N300billion to owners and businessmen in Aviation industry; some took N32billion, N35billion, and they disappeared!“Some took the money to go and build a bank, in Ghana, and Sao Tome; and nothing has happened!” he said.
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