THE Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, met with the team of Vanguard Maritime Report that took him on issues affecting the Nigerian Maritime industry. Excerpts:
Has the maritime security been cancelled because Presidnt Buhari called for the cancellation
Alright, thank you very much.
Let me start with HLSC international, as you are aware, HLSC was awarded contract not to take over maritime security in Nigeria; this is very important, it was a contractor finance program, they were supposed to deliver the number of items, deliver special mission vessels, special mission aircraft, special mission helicopter, combine and control center, then they are supposed to retrain the number of our military personnel. That contract is still in place, nobody has cancelled the contract.
Now, at some point, there was issues raised about the status of the firm, and indeed the president directed that further investigations should be made on the status and records of the firm. The firm, having been investigated earlier, the new information came up based on the president directed for further investigation, the firm was further investigated and given a clean bill of health
Of course, we are in accord with that project. For us, tackling maritime crimes is a top priority issue, there is no way we can be able to ignore it, it doesn’t put us in a good line with the international community. And so, I can say practically that the program is still on.
And now, concerning data on number of vessels we detained and why they are detained, a lot of vessels are detained not because of safety issue. They could be detained for other crime, but that information and data I can make available later.
Then, the issue of cargo pollution and climate change is a global issue. Nobody have phased out all vessels that are not compliance, there is still on-going discussion on that because most vessels are still powered by fossil fuel, and as long as they are powered by fossil fuel, there is an amount of fuel you can’t use to power your vessel.
Then finally, we didn’t train 5,700 seafarers and dockworkers. I said we re-trained them. These are already trained persons. We re-trained 5,000 to upgrade their skill base on the new development. I didn’t say we trained 5,700. I said we re-trained 5,700 maritime dockworkers.
Are we prepared to for the ban of single haul vessels in the next few years ?
Now what happened is that the IMO set a deadline for the abolishment of single haul vessels and decided that for developing countries, they will have a different deadline, that’s what happened. So, it doesn’t apply to Nigeria alone, all developing countries, and Nigeria will comply with the deadline by the IMO.
What is happening to NIMASA helicopter?
NIMASA acquired helicopter many years ago, but because we don’t have the capacity to manage it, the manning was giving to the Nigerian Navy. Recently, there was a review based on correspondence from the Honourable minister of Defense, the president directed that the helicopter should be handed over to the Nigerian navy. We have handed it over to the Nigerian navy. Now, the argument is that the helicopter has been phased out for service of search and rescue and that the few proposals approved by the Federal Executive Council will require helicopter that can work for us in certain functions.
The helicopter we own has been handed over to Nigerian navy. It is in the custody of the Nigerian navy to improve their effort in fighting maritime crimes. That’s a directive from the president. And that’s exactly the stage of our helicopter is now.
What are the statistics of piracy attack and how many have been investigated?
It is not NIMASA’s primary mandate to investigate pirate attacks, but we are working with our friends in the police, in the navy and related sectors. I can tell you that all sides are tight and clean; all piracy attacks are being investigated and I can give you some figure here, and piracy attack I can tell you is usually multi-dimensional.
A number of arrests has been made but because of the way our laws are too relax, proper prosecution has not been very challenging that is why we are pushing for the early passage of the anti-piracy bill before the national assembly. I believe that once the national assembly resumes they will give attention to the bill.
You specifically mentioned that in terms of enablement, you said you provided some kinds of enablement not just conducive environments. Can you tell us other enablement you have made?
We are aware of complaints of ship-owners and they complain about tax regime or the import duty regime for Nigerians who are bringing in vessels. Based on that, we opened engagement with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the possibility of the Nigerian ship-owners accessing a special fund for that purpose at 1 digit interest rate that’s one.
Two, it means further engagement with higher levels of government, ship-owners themselves participated in that engagement and they know the progress we have made. I don’t think I want to pre-empt the final outcome because that will be in bad fate if we have not concluded on the final outcome. But we are pushing to achieve a single digit interest rate for a special facility set aside for Nigerian ship-owners on the issue of vessels.
Aside from pushing of special facilities, for the ship-owners to access the single credit tax regime to attract vessels, we are pushing for a different tax regime. Many foreigners when they are bringing in vessels in the country, they are not taxed as if that vessel is a new vessel, so they have a lower tax regime.
But when Nigerians are bringing in vessels, they have a higher tax regime and this cannot make us competitive in the industry because these foreigners bring in these vessels at a minimum tax regime while if Nigerians are bringing their own vessels at a higher tax regime. So we are working to reduce this tax regime.
We are engaging other stakeholders to change from Free On Board, FOB to Cost Freight, CIF and such engagement is also going with ship owners. Again, we want to know the issue of finance with the federal Inland Revenue services (FIRS), and because of this we are carrying the ship-owners along.
We will not only provide conducive environments; we are looking at building a financial capacity for them to compete in the maritime business.
What about the issue of revenue in CVFF?
About the CVFF, as at the last capital year, we have US$124 million in the CVFF and it is in the CBN. Under
the TSA regime, we have US$124 million in the CBN from CVFF.
Now, let me also say this, the Honorable Minister of Transport, who has the final authority to approve the disbursement of CVFF, I’ve been engaging with him, his desires to disburse the CVFF but he doesn’t want repeat the mistakes of the past. And so, he has ordered a quick review of the guidelines, as soon as the guidelines are reviewed, we will commence the process of disbursing the CVFF.
How soon do we expect this MoU between Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana in the SAMSA?
Listen, we have training vessel and SAMSA have their training vessel. And we were not able to maintain it because it is very expensive to maintain. But if we bring 4 nations together, they will contribute to the cost of maintaining it and we use it together.
The vessel belongs to South Africa and it si there in South-Africa but everybody brings their own cadets on board, they are trained and that diversity also helps in the training, other than them training people from South-Africa alone, when you bring Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana, that diversity will improve the quality of training, the 4 nations will outsource the running of the vessels to one ship manager and do some trading within the African coasts.
Is the MoU between Nigerian maritime (NIMASA) and Ghana maritime authority, is it still in-force?
It is in force
I know some time ago that Capt. Iheanacho proposed to run and manage a training vessels with a view to training cadets that needed seatime, he came to NIMASA to permission for this purpose, Is it not possible to consider such an arrangement?
Yes. Capt. Iheanacho made that proposal and the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria also made that proposal and I gave them kudos for these proposals I can assure you that the proposal is on the table,we are studying it.
An environmentalist recently raised an alarm over the number of wrecks in our waters, and some agencies have also been accused of diverting funds meant for removal, what do you say about it?
All I know is that NIMASA is in the process of engaging people to reduce the wrecks and end issue of wrecks in the country, that much I can tell you. It should not be more than 1 month from now, we have engaged with people to remove wrecks.