By Godwin Oritse
MARITIME lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Mr Olisa Agbakoba has decried the neglect of the N7trillion Cabotage trade, calling for a review and full implementation of the Cabotage law to the benefit of the economy.
Speaking to newsmen in Lagos recently, the legal luminary stated that the foreigners are still having a field day at the expense of local ship owners and operators.
He was of the opinion that if the regulation is done by the amendment of the Cabotage Act, in two weeks three or four people will be jailed.
He explained that he had cause to take some foreigners to court, at the end of the day, the law breaker said ‘I, a Nigerian has no Locus Standing to take him to to court’
Agbakoba noted that if the number of foreigners trading on nation’s water is reduced to considerable level the multiplying effect will be phenomenal.
“The funds that will come into NIMASA’s coffers which I hope will be properly handled, the jobs it will create, it will be spectacular, there will be total turn around if Jonathan is looking for job creation this is one of the avenue for it, this is a N7trillion industry it is twice the national budget “
He stated stated that failure to seize the opportunity of reviewing and fully implementing the Cabotage law, and regulate the industry, the foreigners will keep robbing us of the hugh revenue acruable .
“Because they knew that we seriously giving them a fight by taking them to court, they began to call us before buying vessels but I tell that I am not NIMASA but you see the effects
“It is very important that the NIMASA structure understands that those of us in the shipping environment are tired of hearing stories
“You enforce the law to the point that If the condemnor knows that unless the law is obeyed he or she risks going to jail”.
On the issue of waiver, Agbakoba noted that the waiver approval for foreigners have been grossly abused in the past and cautioned that waivers should be carefully studied before they are granted.
He however urged the maritime media to take advantage of the Freedom of Information Act to dig more into the activities of terminal operators and the roles agencies like Bureau for Public Enterprises BPE and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in the entire port reform process.