Director General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has again reiterated that NIMASA alone cannot build the Maritime industry while admitting failure in the implementation of the Cabotage Act. He emphasised that collaboration and cooperation among relevant industry players is the only way for effective implementation of the Cabotage Act.
The DG made this known during the 2nd edition of the Maritime Stakeholders Forum organised by the Alumni of Maritime Academy of Nigeria Oron (AMANO) with the theme, “Cabotage Act: 16 years After, What Have We Achieved?”.
Cabotage Act otherwise known as the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act was conceptualised in 2003 to boost the Nigerian Maritime Sector. The Act was designed to empower indigenous operators in the Maritime industry to own and operate ships within the nation’s coastal lines. Some stakeholders are however grieved that NIMASA has not lived up to the objectives.
Looking at how the Act has fared in its 16 years of existence, Dakuku who appreciated the Nigerian seafarers and commended AMANO for organising the forum maintained that the industry has grown and progressed. He observed however that the Cabotage Act is not yet where it should be, adding that there was a need for improvement.
“NIMASA alone cannot achieve the aspirations, intents, and objectives of the Cabotage Act. I believe that we have not done very well but there is a need for improvement. The greatest thing that can happen for us to achieve the Cabotage law is collaboration and cooperation. If we leave NIMASA to drive the Cabotage law, till tomorrow, we will not achieve anything. But if the regulator, stakeholder, and industry all come together, that is the only way we can achieve the intent and aspiration of the Cabotage law.”
The DG noted also that with the new Cabotage Compliance Strategy, a process of cessation of granting waivers will kick-off.
“In the past few months, we have had 7,000 Nigerians placed on board vessel. That is the highest record we have had from the inception of the Cabotage regime to date because there is a determined programme not to grant waivers.
“We are going to create an incentive for those who are going to build vessels in-country. Our sister agencies will not bring vessels from outside, they must patronize vessels built in Nigeria and we as NIMASA will lead by example.”
He enumerated the major benefits when Nigeria manufactures its fleet.
“If we begin the process of building vessels in the country, it will improve skill, create employment, create an industry for us and also create wealth for our people. We will be forced to improve our infrastructure and it will also translate to having more players at the downstream.
“On importation of certain categories of vessels, we have gotten the buy-in of Customs, Central Bank, NNPC and other stakeholders because certain categories of vessels cannot be built outside this country by the end of next year,” he said.
Head of Cabotage Unit, NIMASA, Barrister Victor Egejuru expressed further that Nigeria being rated high by International statistics portends the industry is living up to its responsibility as a coastal authority. He continued that they are working to facilitate direct foreign investment and the industry has to develop capacity in shipbuilding adding that the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) will focus on achieving upgrade of the maritime infrastructure.
Engineer Austin Umezurike, the President of AMANO noted that the association has plans to support capacity building at the Maritime Academy through the Alumni Volunteer Teaching Support Program. He also added that the reason why the academy is not able to attract the right instructors is because of the conditions of service. He called on the supervising ministry to revise the remuneration structure to make teaching at the academy attractive to professionals.