‘Nigeria loses $50b yearly to foreign domination, non-implementation of Cabotage Act’
Seafarers body demandCVFF for local shipbuilding
Foreign domination of Nigeria’s waters due to non-implementation of the Cabotage Act costs the country an estimated $50 billion in capital flight yearly. The submission was made, yesterday, during the 2023 International Day of Seafarers, marked by the joint body of Nigerian Seafarer’s Professional Group, in Lagos.
The body comprises: Female Seafarers Association of Nigeria; Concerned Seafarers Forum; Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria; Maritime Professional Forum; Nigerian Association of Master Mariners; Great Mariners; Nigerian Seafarers Connect; Alumni of Maritime Academy of Nigeria and Nigeria Maritime Pilot Association.
The Day of Seafarer is a yearly event coordinated by International Maritime Organisation every June 25 to acknowledge the role seafarers play in international trade and global economy.
Secretary General of Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria, Captain Alfred Oniye, lamented that foreigners have taken over shipping trade in the country and jobs meant for local seafarers due to non-implementation of the Coastal Inland Shipping Act 2003, also known as Cabotage Act.
The Act seeks to reserve commercial transportation of goods and services within Nigeria’s coastal and inland waters to vessels flying the Nigerian flag and owned by the country’s citizens.
Oniye said 80 per cent of Nigerian seafarers are currently jobless, as most of them have been out of sea. He said implementation of the Cabotage Act will generate about $50 billion for the maritime industry yearly, but this is lost in capital flight through foreign vessels.
Oniye also stressed the need to utilise the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), which is provided for in the Cabotage Act, for shipbuilding in the country. According to him, this will generate about $100 billion yearly for the country.
He said: “The Cabotage Act says any ship that would sail within the Nigerian coast must be built in Nigeria, owned by Nigerians, and manned by Nigerians. If over 80 per cent of the vessels that sail in Nigerian waters are owned by foreigners, they will bring in their own citizens and the gain would favour their citizens.”
“Implementation of the Cabotage Act is enough to create jobs for over 15,000 Nigerians because the ship would be built here and owned by Nigerians.
“Taking such money out of Nigeria is going to cause havoc. Anyone who said CVFF money should be taken outside for importation of ships is an enemy of this country. Nigeria is overdue, and we must start building ships locally.”
A captain of one of the largest vessels that sail in Nigeria, Ogunsakin Williams, said the major problem is lack of political will. He urged the Presidency to prioritise reviving of the shipping industry, saying it will reduce unemployment in the maritime sector and generate revenue to address debt deficits.
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