By Godwin Oritse
IN a bid to actualise full implementation of the Cabotage Act, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and key players in the maritime industry have set a plan to end Cabotage waivers for non-indigenous ship owners within the next five years.
The waivers are aimed at promoting indigenous participation in shipping in Nigeria.
The management of NIMASA and its stakeholders met earlier this week in Lagos where they agreed on the need for collaboration to facilitate optimal implementation of the Cabotage law.
Speaking during the meeting, Director General, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said the Agency was determined to ensure that Cabotage waivers were stopped within the next five years.
Dakuku stated: “NIMASA’s mandate is all about promoting and regulating shipping in Nigeria and we have no intentions to stifle anybody’s business. Rather, we are committed to promoting, protecting and providing the enabling environment so that the local ship owners can grow and compete with their international counterparts. We are, certainly, determined to work with our stakeholders.”
The NIMASA boss who was represented by Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Mr. Gambo Ahmed, told the stakeholders that part of the strategy to bring an end to the issuance of waivers was to develop infrastructural capacity and human capital with respect to training of seafarers to attain global standards.
He called on the stakeholders to cooperate with the Agency to realise the Cabotage implementation, saying it holds a huge potential to job creation, add to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and bring about a boom in the economy.
Speaking in similar vein, Mr. Temisan Omatseye, a former Director General of the agency, noted that NIMASA was the only Agency recognised and mandated by government to regulate and enforce shipping activities in Nigeria. Omatseye urged the Agency to use the powers bestowed on it by law to ensure total compliance with the Cabotage Act and apply punitive measures against erring shipping companies.
“If we don’t begin to enforce the Cabotage law, the purpose of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) will be defeated,” Omatseye added.