By Godwin Oritse
THE Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has suspended the issuance of Cabotage waivers due to abuse by both indigenous and foreign shipping firms.
Speaking to Vanguard at the just concluded stakeholders meeting in Calabar, Director General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside, said that the abuse of the waiver regime necessitated the agency’s action.
Peterside also told Vanguard that the suspension was temporary pending a review of the processes and procedures.
The agency’s Executive Director in charge of Marine and Operations, Engr Rotimi Fashakin, said that the issuance of waiver was supposed to be a stop gap with a view to developing local capacity in the manning, owning flagging and building of vessels that operate within the nation’s coastal and territorial waters.
According to Fashakin, Nigerian ship operators have formed the habit of getting manning waivers to employ foreigners on their vessels.
“If Nigerians cannot employ Nigerian Seafarers, then who will do that” he queried.
Fashakin stated: “The provision of waivers in the Cabotage Act of 2003 is meant to be an exception instead of the norm as is being witnessed currently.
“Even indigenous operators seek for waivers on issues such as manning.
“If the indigenous operators are not ready to employ Nigerians, on what moral grounds can we compel the foreigners to do same?
“The agency has decided to suspend the issuance of waivers on manning for now. A marine notice has been issued to this effect.”