June 10, 2009

Cabotage: Slok partners Diamond bank on vessel acquisition

By Godfrey Bivbere
The number of vessels in the nation’s fleet has been boosted with eight new additional ships recently acquired by Slok Nigeria Limited own by the immediate past Governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, in partnership with Diamond bank.

The bank provided the company about N30,680,000.00 (US$260Million) with which it acquired the ships to strengthen indigenous participation in the Cabotage operations dominated by foreigners.

The vessels which were built in NGV Tech. Shipyard in Malaysia have be commissioned and christened in Malaysia. The vessel cost a whopping US$260Million (or about =N=31Billion) and that the funds were syndicated by a team of European banks but domiciled with Diamond Bank Plc.

A source told Vanguard further disclosed “that the brand new vessels are totally Cabotage vessels and that Chief Uzor Kalu is very excited about the potentials that the new ocean liners are likely to bring into the Nigerian maritime sector which has been dominated by foreign interests.”

Vanguard confirmed that the vessels would immediately begin their voyage to Nigeria and would be received at another round of commissioning ceremony later in the year.

The fresh exploits into the shipping sector comes exactly 10 years after the ex-governor incorporated Slok Nigeria Limited which has now metamorphosed into a conglomerate with diverse interests in shipping, aviation, import and export, among other blue chip interests.

The company had in 1988 purchased a 12,000 deadweight tanker, but has since then increased its fleet capacity to 10 in an industry where indigenous shipowners cry of marginalisation and plead daily for government bail-out.

It was confirmed that Chief Uzor Kalu opted for the acquisition of the vessels to take advantage of the abundant opportunities which exist in Caboatge trade.