By Godwin Oritse
THE Federal Government is targeting an additional 700 vessels annually into itsÂ newly introduced hybrid registry from 2011,Â following the migration from closed registry by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to hybrid registry.
With the migration from closed registry which had restricted the number of vessels flying Nigeria â€™s flag to less than 30 ships, the conditions for registration under the hybrid platform will be liberalised.
This was disclosed by Mr. Temisan Omatseye, Director General of NIMASA, at the three-day training workshop for the League of Maritime Editors in Lagos .
Justifying the jettisoning of the closed registry, Omatseye who was represented by Mr. A. A. Akinyosoye, Deputy Director, cabotage services, said that the hybrid platform will renew interest of the international oil companies in Nigerian flagged vessels for offshore support contract considerations.
In addition to becoming a viable revenue earner for the Federal Government, he said the new registry will also reverse the trend where Nigerian flagged vessels are targeted at foreign ports underÂ state control.
With the simplified and computerised registration procedure that enables the completion of registration within seven days, the NIMASA boss said annual tonnage growth of 500,000 will be achieved from 2012.
Omatseye said the hybrid register will also attract high tonnage vessels, including the Floating Production Storage and Floating (FPSO) vessels and Floating Storage Offloading (FSO) vessels.
With the new system, he said there will be rapid flag state response to emergencies of Nigerian flagged vessels under vessel responsibility.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mazi Tony Ohakwe, President of the League of Maritime Editors, said Nigeria â€™s maritime industry is faced with huge manpower challenges, especially in critical areas requiring specialised knowledge. To overcome the challenge, he called for concerted efforts to evolve a strategy for the training of personnel in all facets of the industry.
He appealed to NIMASA to ensure that all conventions of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Nigeria is signatory to are domesticated in collaboration with the National Assembly.
Commending Mr. Temisan Omatseye, director general of NIMASA for the success recorded in the implementation of the cabotage regime, Ohakwe called for a review of the terms of trade so that Nigerian shipping operators may get a share of the lifting of sea-borne trade, especially the export of crude oil.