By Godfrey Bivbere
Contrary to belief by some stakeholders that the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, prefers its vessels registered abroad, facts have emerged that the company which has a large fleet of ocean going ships, abandoned registration in Nigeria because of substandard registry.
All vessels, according to the rules of the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, are expected to register under a country of their choice, the maritime administration, which in turn permits such ship to fly their flag.
Vanguard gathered that efforts by NLNG in the past to help the nation’s maritime authority, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA to upgrade the registry were resisted.
This was confirmed by the President of Nigeria Ship Owners Association, SOAN, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, who recently attested to the willingness of the company to fly the nation’s flag on its vessels.
He noted that the NLNG had engaged a consultant on ways of improving the nation’s registry but expressed regret that nothing has been done with the report after over three years.
The SOAN president said the nation’s flag administration is very weak and therefore not attractive to Nigerian ship owners and the international maritime community.
Ogbeifun , who disclosed this at a SOAN event in Lagos, said “the NLNG actually approached our flag administration to express their desire and preference to register all her ships in Nigeria if the flags administration can be enhanced and reorganised to meet international standard.
“They went further and paid for a consultant to carry out a study of our flag administration and made recommendations to achieve this objective.
“The report and recommendations have been awaiting implementation by the maritime administration since then, over three years ago.” He further disclosed that the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on assumption of office as minister, had constituted a committee to look at possible ways to make the nation’s flag administration attractive for international patronage.
Speaking further, the SOAN boss said that the committee has since finished its work and have handed same to the NIMASA management.
“A team of sound professionals worked assiduously to produce a comprehensive report and recommendations to achieve the objective but there has not been the political will to implement the recommendations of their report.”
He accused NIMASA of focusing on collection of revenue and levies, instead of engaging and collaborating with stakeholders, shipowners, ship repairers, and maritime security providers.
He pointed out the NIMASA, apart from collection of levies and revenue, “mete out punitive measures on these stakeholders such as arrest, threat and shut down of ship repair yards with the negative consequences to the industry which the international maritime community and the International Maritime Organisation, IMO are observing.”