February 10, 2017

Cabotage: Nigerian economy losing greatly to non-implementation— SIFAX boss

By Godfrey Bivbere

THE Nigerian economy is losing growth due to non-implementation of the Cabotage law, which adversely affects the capacity of the maritime industry to maximise its contribution to the nation’s economic growth.

Executive Vice Chairman of SIFAX Group, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, who made this known in Lagos, noted that the law which was designed to primarily deepen the participation of Nigerian maritime practitioners in the international maritime business and give them more stakes in the local maritime industry has not produced the desired result.

The Cabotage law makes provisions for domestically owned and Nigerian registered vessels to have exclusive opportunity of engaging in the domestic coastal carriage of cargo and passengers within the coastal and territorial inland waters of Nigeria. This is presently not a reality in the maritime sector.

Afolabi lamented that the law which contains vital sections that aims at empowering Nigerians to achieve more in the maritime sector thereby adding more value to the economy has been neglected.

A statement by the corporate affairs manager of SIFAX, Muyiwa Akande, stated that, the SIFAX Group boss said a critical portion of the law, the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund, CVFF, came into being with the promulgation of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act in 2003.

He said it was included in the law that the fund would be derived from two percent deductions of every contract awarded and the funds would be used to help grow the capacity of the indigenous ship owners and also provide financial assistance to Nigerian operators in the domestic coastal shipping in order to acquire vessels. He noted that in reality, a lot of problems have bedeviled the implementation of the law.

He appealed to the Federal Government, through the relevant agencies, to take a second look at the law and expedite action on its implementation for the benefit of the industry and the country’s economy.

Recall that operators had complained about domination of the domestic maritime business by foreign ship-owners despite the law restricting that area of business to Nigerian ship-owners. “With more than 30 years of experience in port management and support services in shore bases across the country, we will leverage on our competency and continue to partner with government and relevant stakeholders to deliver great value to the Nigerian economy the provision of best-in-class logistics services,” Afolabi said.