By Godwin Oritse
FOURTEEN years after the demise of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL), the Federal Government has approved the establishment of a N5 billion national shipping company, that will be owned by the private and public sectors.
The Minister of Transport, Alhaji Ibrahim Bio, said inÂ Abuja that the national maritime regulatory agency, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has been given approval to set up the firm.
Bio added that the agency has also been charged to put together an inter-agency committee to work out the modalities for the successful take off of the project .
The shipping firm, Vanguard gathered, will start with three second-hand international tradingÂ vessels whose cost has been put at N5bn .
â€œThe modalities for the successful take-off of this scheme are being finalised with the constitution of an inter-agency committee,â€ he added
Speaking to Vanguard on the prospect of the new national carrier, Dr. Jideofor Ogbuagu, President, Maritime Professional Association, said except seasoned professionals were engaged to manage the shipping company, it would go the way of the defunct NNSL and the Nigerian Unity Line (NUL).
â€œThe modalities for the successful take off of this scheme are being finalized with the constitution of an inter-agency Committeeâ€ he added
It willÂ be recalled that the defunct NNSL was liquidated in 1995 by the then minister of transport Major General Ibrahim Gumel after series of seizures of the companyâ€™s vseesls in different part of the world for alleged breach of contract and unpaid bill.
Undue inference from government and mismanagement on the part of officers saddled with task of running the firm also led to the failure of the shipping line.
Besides, NNSL failure to meet up with litigation in different parts of the world and subsequent depletion of its fleet also contributed to its demise.
The failure of NNSL however gave birth to yet another defunct National Unity Line whose last managing director Mr Sam Atukum sold the line to Mr Femi Otedola for a whopping $20million through the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).
A few months after the line was told to Otedola, his money was refunded as the entire firm did not worth more the name it bore.
It would also be recalled that the current crop of ship captains and marine personnel in Nigeria were trained on theÂ vessels of NNSL, a development that has created a dearth of qualified marine workers in the country.
NNSL at inception had a total of 26 vessel purchased in 1979 by the military government headed by Olusegun Obasanjo.
Twenty years after Obasanjo left and returned as civilian head of state, he met only one scrap of a vessel â€˜M Vâ€™ Trainer which was later sold off for a paltry sum of $450,000.00.