THE Nigeria Institute of Shipping, NIS, has called on the Federal Government to consider the operation of an open ship registry with a view to develop local shipping in Nigeria.
Speaking at the 6thAnnual General Meeting, Sir Chief Caleb Okoye, immediate past president ofNIS, said that since government has realised that it cannot single handedly fund the development, there is need to create an enabling environment for the local shipping industry to strive.
Okoye explained that an enabling environment will also enable Nigerians to own and operate bigger vessels.
TheNISboss who commended the government for revamping the railway system within the port added that the effort will enhance the movement and speedy clearance of goods from the ports
He, however, frowned at the treatment of indigenous shipping firms by government in the carriage of the nation’s crude, adding that if the situation is not reversed, the economic benefits of such business will continue to elude Nigerians.
He said “We also note the efforts federal government is making to revive the railways system. It is important that the Apapa port rail system should be restored so as to assist in movement of containers to northern states. It may be an opportunity to restore the old inland container Depots atKanoandKaduna. This would be a big relieve to our roads.
“As we know, shipping is a very capital intensive venture whose profit margin is not very attractive .This may be the reason whyNigeriainvestors are not in a hurry to invest in shipping business.
After the demise of the Nigeria National Shipping Line, government realised its inability to fund shipping development alone.
We still believe that government should create good environment so as to encourage indigenous operators to own bigger vessels as hundred percent of our crude oil and containers are lifted by foreign flag vessels.
This should be part of or vision for year 2020 policy.
“Finally, if the federal government is still reluctant in involving indigenous lines in the lifting of crude oil and other oil related products; we would strongly recommend that they should consider “open Flag Registry s” inNigeria. Countries likeLiberia,Panama,Cyprus, andSingaporehave benefited from open flag registry. As far back as 1980, over 30 percent of world tankers and super tankers were registered inLiberia. At least, it serves as revenue earner for that country.”