Hanging bills jeopardise maritime sector fortunes
Failure of the National Assembly to pass some critical industry bills into law has deeply hampered growth and development of the maritime sector.These bills, five maritime, and one petroleum industry bills, have stalled earnings running into billions of dollars that would have been generated through various activities in the sector.
The bills include; Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), Anti-piracy Bill; the Establishment of the Nigerian Marine Development Bank Bill; Inland Fisheries Act (Amendment) Bill 2017; the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (Amendment) Bill 2016; and the Cabotage Act (Amendment Bill) 2017.
The new Maritime Industry report released by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), showed that the PIGB has stalled over $3billion that is expected to have been accrued from the increased bunkering activities in the maritime operations.
The PIGB is a subset of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which seeks to bring under one law the various legislative, regulatory, and fiscal policies, instruments and institutions that govern the Nigerian petroleum industry.
According to the report: “Shipping has always been of strategic importance to the oil and gas industry. Not only is over 70 per cent of all crude oil production transported by ships, more and more oil productions activities are now being carried out offshore. This shows that the oil industry relies heavily on the maritime industry for its smooth operations. Whatever happens in the oil and gas industry is likely to affect the shipping industry and vice versa.”
The PIGB, if passed into law, would increase in cabotage activities, increase demand for crude oil tankers, as well as importation of oil and gas production equipment, and increased bunkering activities.
The Director-General, NMASA, Dakuku Peterside expressed optimism that the five important maritime sector bills, amongst others, will be signed into law this year, as they are currently undergoing legislative processes at the National Assembly.
“Nigeria, with a coastline of 852 kilometres bordering the Atlantic Ocean in the Gulf of Guinea and a maritime area of 46,000 km2, has significant and diverse marine resources.
“With a total annual freight cost estimated at between $5 billion and $6billion yearly, the maritime sector plays an important role in the exploitation, distribution and export of Nigeria‘s ocean resources,” the report stated.
According to the Ministry of Transport, the maritime component of Nigeria‘s oil and gas industry is reportedly worth an estimated $8billion, further reflecting the prominence of the sector to the country‘s overall economy. The importance of maritime transport to the Nigerian economy is also recognised in seaborne transportation, oceanic extractive resource exploitation, and export processing zones.
The emerging opportunities in the Nigerian maritime sector, according to the report, are in the areas of manpower and human capacity development; infrastructural development; globalisation and the application of new technology; research and development; security; marine agriculture, insurance and tourism; waste management and the development of ocean based industries.
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