By Omoh Gabriel, Business Editor
Nigerian Maritime Ad-ministration and Safe-ty Agency(NIMASA), has disclosed that it will help develop indigenous capacity in the Maritime sector to help local firms take advantage of the local content policy of the Federal Government. As a step to realising this, the management has met with members of the Indigenous Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (ISAN) and set up a Joint Technical Committee to review and provide a road map to improve indigenous participation in the Nigerian Maritime sector.
According to those at the meeting: “A decision has also been taken to constitute and inaugurate a Maritime Advisory Group for the Nigerian Maritime industry before the end of May.”
These, it was learnt, were part of the decisions taken at a meeting between the Management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency led by the Director-General, Mr Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi and members of the Indigenous Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (ISAN), led by its Chairman, Chief Isaac Jolapamo.
According to those present at the meeting, the NIMASA D-G noted that the Maritime Advisory Group has become a necessity to ensure that all stakeholders are carried along in the process of policy formulation and implementation in the Nigerian Maritime sector. He was said to have further noted that NIMASA Management under his leadership is committed to a collective process of decision-making in harnessing the potentials of the country’s Maritime sector.
In his words: “The time for rhetoric is over. The Maritime Advisory Group will have people of high integrity who will add value to our vision of developing the industry. Even as we desire collective efforts, constructive criticisms are welcome, we are ready to move with the speed of light in harnessing the country’s maritime potentials.”
Commenting on the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF), Mr. Akpobolokemi disclosed that a lot of progress has been made as the appointed Primary Lending Institutions have recommended six organisations to NIMASA for issuance of Certificates of Disbursement (COD). This, he said will only be done after both the NIMASA Board and the Hon. Minister of Transport have granted the Agency all necessary approvals.
He also said that the Capability Audit exercise embarked upon by the Agency last year has started yielding fruits as most companies now find it difficult to terminate contracts of indigenous operators at will as they now have NIMASA to contend with. The Chairman of the Indigenous Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Chief Isaac Jolapamo commended the Management of NIMASA for making the Maritime Advisory Group a reality, assuring that ISAN will support programmes of the Agency. While commending the Management of NIMASA for effective enforcement of Cabotage regime in Lagos, Chief Jolapamo urged the Agency to extend same to other ports in Port Harcourt, Calabar, Onne and Warri.
“This is the right direction to go. We are very happy with NIMASA’s fight against piracy and Cabotage enforcement. Foreign vessels do not come to Lagos again illegally except on weekends. They have moved to Calabar and Port Harcourt. We want NIMASA to step up operations in those areas,” he said.
He noted that the future of maritime in Nigeria lies with indigenous operators taking charge, adding that ISAN will carry out a technical audit on all vessels under its fleet and report same to NIMASA.
Chief Jolapamo also commended President Goodluck Jonathan for appointing Mr Oyewole Gbenga as Special Adviser on Maritime Affairs and requested the President to elevate the office to that of a full- fledged ministry.