‘Indiscriminate’ granting of waivers to foreigners worries ship owners
SHIP owners have urged the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi to tackle alleged indiscriminate granting of waivers to foreign-owned vessels to operate on Nigerian waters.
In a statement issued in Lagos, the Ship Owners also accused one of the agencies in the ministry of transport of allegedly frustrating stakeholder’s effort to brief the new Minister.
Under the aegis of Nigeria Ship owners Association (NISA), the ship owners described their inability to brief the new minister during his visit to Lagos as “a ploy to cover the rot in the maritime sector”.
The Director–General of NISA, Nnajiuno Ogbuagu, an engineer, was quoted in the statement as saying: “It is likely that some persons in some agencies did not want us in the picture of the visit’’.
Ogbuagu explained that the inability to meet the minister during the visit “might not be unconnected with what the ship owners might say about the endemic and protracted rot in the maritime sector”.
Ogbuagu added: “We welcome the Honourable Minister of Transport, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, to Lagos on his first official visit to all the maritime agencies under the Transport Ministry located in Lagos.
“However, we feel that as major maritime industry stakeholders, we should have been informed of the visit and better still, invited to meet the Honourable Minister. We suspect that the Honorable Minister is not responsible for this lapse,’’ the Director-General said.
He said: “These attitudes, over the years, have kept the maritime industry under-developed and indigenous shipping in disarray.
“There certainly cannot be any maritime agency without the ship owners. Maritime agencies and critical stakeholders such as the ship owners are like the two wings of a bird; none can function effectively without the other,’’ said Ogbuagu.
According to Ogbuagu, of particular interest to the Nigerian Ship owners “is the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the agency directly responsible for the development and the regulation of both international and local shipping activities in Nigeria’’.
He said NIMASA requires “urgent clean-up, massive reform and repositioning to deliver on its mandates. What is currently happening in NIMASA are all motion and no movement”.
Explaining further, he said: “NIMASA by their acts inadvertently and subsequently disenfranchised Nigerian ship owners from fully participating in the domestic shipping trade in favour of their foreign shipping service providers in three areas.
“Indiscriminate granting of waivers to foreign-owned vessels. As at last count, 5,238 as against only five allegedly approved by the former minister. Allowing ship-to-ship (STS) operations in Cotonou/Lome waters unabated, and inability of indigenous ship operators to access NIMASA Operated Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), ‘’ Ogbuagu said.
The Director-General recalled that ship owners had made presentations about these worrisome issues to the ministry of transport, the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), NIMASA and other relevant government agencies in the past.
“We are ready and willing to avail the minister of our detailed submissions any time he gives us the opportunity to do so.
“We have, as a responsible maritime Association written to the minister to felicitate with him on assumption of office and specifically requested to pay a courtesy visit at his convenience to air our views on the various malfeasance being perpetrated by NIMASA.