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CABOTAGE LAW: Ship-owners head to court for enforcement

By Godfrey Bivbere
THE Indigenous   Shipowners Association of Nigeria (ISAN) has gone to court to enforce the provisions of the cabotage law which restrict the operations in Nigerian waters to vessels owned, crewed and built in the country to local ship-owners.

The action of ISAN may not be unconnected with the failure of the management of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) empowered by law to implement the it for their benefit.

In a suit filed by Mike Igbokwe & Co. on behalf of the ISAN and the management of Pokat Nigeria Limited, the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the detention of a tanker vessel, M/T Makhambet, for trading in the nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) contrary to the provisions of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act.

The court ordered the detention of the ship for bringing 10,000 litres of petroleum to Ibafon Jetty which is in contravention of the Cabotage law.

In granting the prayers of the plaintiffs, the court ordered that not only should the ship be detained, its documents should be deposited with it also while the authorities of the Nigerian Navy should deploy its personnel to enforce the order.

The court also directed that the plaintiffs pick up the bills of the Nigerian Navy personnel that would go onboard the vessel to enforce the order while they Navy should also patrol the surrounding waters to prevent the vessel from “escaping from the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court.”

The vessel which is the first defendant along side MBX Shipping Ltd (owners of the vessel) and the master of the ship who are the 2nd and 3rd defendants, according to the order “whether by themselves or their servants or agents or privies or otherwise, howsoever are restrained from applying for or obtaining port clearance for the 1st defendant of from sailing or causing the said 1st defendant to leave her present location at the Ibafon 1 Jetty Apapa Lagos or using or trading with her in and within Nigerian waters or EEZ pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”

It would be recalled that members of ISAN have been lamenting their fate since the signing into law of the Cabotage law which they claimed has even worsen their conditions, as their vessels are now left rusting away because foreigners have completely taken over trade in Nigerian waters despite the Cabotage law.

This action by members of ISAN may not be unconnected with the fact that several complaints to the agency empowered by government to implement to the Act ( Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had failed to yield no result.


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