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Cabotage: Shipowners arrest fifth vessel for illegal bunkering

By Godfrey Bivbere & Chinelo Enemuo
The Indigenous Shipowners Associaion of Nigeria (ISAN) has arrested a fifth vessel in its bid to rid the nation’s coastal water of foreign ships engaged in illegal bunkering in contradiction of the Cabotage law.

The arrested vessel M.T. Union Triumph had brought in about 5,000 metric tons of Automated Gas Oil (AGO) to fishery wharf jetty from a mother ship outside the nation’s waters.

Disclosing the latest arrest in Lagos, Chairman of ISAN, Chief Isaac Jolapamo, said that ISAN is determined to legally fight for its rights before foreign shipowners completely  run its members out of business like they have done in most countries in the sub region.

According to him, “We could not afford to continue to fold our arms and watch helplessly as foreigners destroy our sector. We had to make a bold move by engaging the services of lawyers to arrest vessels that flout the Cabotage Law.”

“So far, we have obtained court orders to effect the arrest of five vessels at different times in the last two months. The vessels are M.T. Makhambet, M.T. Lovell Sea, M.T. Union Grace, M.T. Union Force and M.T. Torrent. Two more vessels escaped before the warrant could be served on them. They are M.T. Union Pride and M.T. Union Triumph.”

Jolapamo explained that since the Cabotage law came into force five years ago, ISAN members are the worse for it because even the little jobs that they used to do before are all gone.

He  noted that its members  “vessels are lying idle and accumulating costs without jobs to do. Most of us have been unable to pay salaries and service loan facilities for upward of eight months. Several of us have even pawned properties and other assets to make ends meet.”

He further disclosed that there was nothing wrong with the law as it is but blamed the government agency responsible for its enforcement. Jolapamo also accused all the various government agencies in the sector of connivance with the foreign shipowners to under mine the Law.

“The  disregard for the law is not necessarily due to lapses in it but essentially due to the inability of the implementing agency to enforce the provisions of the law. There is serious conspiracy and collusion by all the government agencies as well as unscrupulous Nigerian business concerns.

This has led to the  resistance of the Cabotage Law on the part of foreign shipowners and operators. These foreign operators/owners are mostly of Asian origin, mostly Indians and Pakistanis and a few European countries nationals.” On the update of the five ships arrested so far, the ISAN boss said that “the case of M.T. Makhambet, the first vessel we arrested on the orders of the federal high court, Lagos has proceeded to the appeal court, the cases of the other four vessels are pending determination at the federal high court” he concluded.


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