By Godfrey Bivbere & Ebuka Oko

The National Fleet Implementation Committee, NFIC, is advocating for zero percent import duty for all vessel acquisitions by indigenous ship owners as a means of encouraging them while getting Nigerians involved in international shipping.

The vessel , NigerStar 7 Adaba

Chairman of the NFIC, Hassan Bello, who is also the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, disclosed this last Thursday at the 20th Anniversary Lecture/ Awards and Patrons’ Investiture ceremony of the League of Maritime Editors, under the theme, “Indigenous Fleet Development, What Options?” held in Lagos.

Bello identified the incentives as “comparatively simple but reliable ship registration procedure” which is efficient and full of integrity. He said such incentives shall be institutionalized to avoid political influence and made reliable for investors’ trust.

Other incentives he advocated include, “a very strong safety administration system and procedures in support and protection of the registered ships, a systematic approach to the establishment of merchant shipping security and administration that provide confidence in shipping trade and understanding of the international shipping community; establish a reliable statistical data for the manning of flag ships and well coordinated training, examination and certification of seafarer in Nigeria; strategic plan and implementation procedures to ensure availability of cargo for interested indigenes; concern for ships’ repair and husbandry; reasonable protectionism for national fleet in operational procedures even when such requirements are not statutory or institutionalized; reliable communications and assistance to fleet; all entities concerning the carriage of national cargo should develop common interest on the sustainable success of the policy.”

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Bello disclosed that the Nigerian Fleet Implementation Committee which he also chairs has so far identified zero import duty on vessels, tonnage tax as among the incentives necessary for the growth of indigenous fleet.

Chairman of the occasion, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho, described the incentives being sought as what will turn around the nation’s shipping industry.

Commending Bello for the depth of knowledge in his paper as it covered a series of options available in indigenous fleet development, however, warned against government appointing the Chief Executive Officer in the case of public private partnership (PPP) leading to establishment of a fleet company because of the negative experience in the defunct Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL).

President of the League, Mr Kingsley Anaroke in his welcome address on the occasion of seminar said this has become necessary as the maritime media; mainly publishers share the fate being suffered by the Nigerian indigenous ship owners.

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He said while the ship owners were currently suffering as a result of lack of funds to acquire fleet, the maritime media publishers have been faced with capacity development issues, including the resources needed for investigative and developmental journalism.

According to him, so much is needed in undertaking research, adding that the situation is worsened by lack of patronage by the agencies of government in the sector.

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