OIL rig operators have ganged up against the payment of the 2% Cabotage fee as prescribed in the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act otherwise known as Cabotage saying that the law excludes them from such payments.
Already, the oil rig operators have sued NIMASA for disrupting their businesses and trying to compel them to pay fees they are not supposed to pay.
Meanwhile, the Director of Cabotage Barrister Boniface Igwe, has ordered for the arrest of any rig operating in Nigeria and refusing to pay the fee.
Igwe said that since they operate within the coastal water of Nigeria, they must pay whatever fee there is to pay.
The oil rig operators whose identities Vanguard could not ascertain immediately, said their operations are not included in the Act and as such cannot not be made to pay the 2% Cabotage fee.
The Legal Adviser to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Barrister Matthew Egbadon confirmed the fact that the agency is caught with the rig operators.
In the Cabotage Act, there was no mention of rig ,meaning that the rigs operators, as contained in the Act, is not meant to pay the fee.
The craft mentioned in the Act are Passenger vessels, crew boats, bunkering vessels, fishing trawlers, barges, off-shore service vessels, tugs, anchor handling tugs and supply vessels, floating Petroleum storage, dredgers, tankers, carriers, and any other craft.
The Cabotage Act described ‘vessel’ as ship. boat hovercraft or craft, designed , used or capable of being used solely or partly for marine navigation and used for the carriage on, through or lack of propulsion.
The administrators of the Cabotage have been having a running battle with Nigerians and foreign shipping operating to ensure that they either comply with the law or get out of the country.
In a recent meeting in Lagos, between the managements of the NIMASA and the Nigeria Local Content Monitoring Board, both parties pledged support for each other to see to the successful implementation of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage).
The passage of the Local Content law according to analysts will stimulate growth in local shipping sector.