By Godwin Oritse
MARITIME expert and consultant to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Dr Wilson Omene has called for the removal of the waiver clause in the Inland and CoastalÂ Act otherwise known as Cabotage law for the successful implementation of the law.
In anÂ interview with Vanguard, the former staff of the defunct National Maritime Authority (NMA) now Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) said that the waiver clause was one of the issues that pitched him against the authorities when the law was passed.
Omene also said that the Cabotage trade law should be amended and the waiver clause be removed, adding that what is being practiced in Nigeria is at variance with what is obtainable else where in the world.
He stated that Cabotage law is the same any where in the world , saying that â€œany local shipping trade with the country must be done by the indigenes or citizens of that countryâ€.
He noted that there are dead wood in the system, and this according to him has created more than solve problems encountered in the industry.
He said â€œThe Cabotage is the same all over the world, it is the same Jones Act in America, it is in India , it is China and every where.
â€œI cried when the bill containing the waiver clause was being proposed and at that time, I was seen as an enemy of progress, but today the same waiver clause has become the undoing of the Cabotage Act as the purpose of building local capacity has been defeated by the clauseâ€.
â€˜Why is the law failing because there is one stupid clause there and I cried and cried before it was passed into law that it should be expungedÂ by the National Assembly.
â€œAnd what is that clause, the clause of giving power of waiverÂ to aÂ minister, who is a minister for crying out loud , why give power to somebody that need advise from someone before he can take a decision.
â€œAnd of course you and I know thatÂ he will not even takeÂ any advise from any body before he takes a decision because of his personal interest because this has happened beforeâ€
He suggested that when people are being appointed into maritime agencies, politics should be the last consideration, adding that the competence of the individual to increase tonnage and build indigenous capacityÂ what government should require.
Speaking in similar Mr Lucky Amiwero, a front line freight forwarder also kicked against the waiver clause which he said has been the undoing of the Cabotage law.
He explained that the clause is just to service the financial need and greed of certain people in government as monies are collected from applicants and before the applications are approved, the ships would have finished the contract and long gone.
â€œIt is only in absolute cases that waivers are granted and until the clause is removed we will keep dancing round the issueâ€ he added .