By Godfrey Bivbere
MARITIME stakeholders have listed some measures that would be required to achieve 10 per cent growth in the sector as projected by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA.
They noted that human, technical and structural capacity development was crucial to the actualisation of the goal, and therefore, called on NIMASA to ensure that these are put in place.
While commending NIMASA’s effort in the development of human capacity in the maritime industry, in terms of training of seafarers they, however, noted that the agency needed to ensure sea time training for both cadets of its Nigeria Seafarers Development Programme, NSDP, and those trained at the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, MAN, Oron.
They also ask for the provision of funds for the acquisition of ocean-going vessels that will not only help in the sea time training of cadets but also in the generation of funds for the government.
Speaking with Vanguard Maritime Report on the issue, National President of Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association, NMNOWTSSA, Matthew Alalade, said that the growth projection can only be achieved if indigenous ship owners have shipped.
He said: “They say they have forecast of 10 per cent growth, I do not know; let us see how it goes. It cannot be achieved without ownership of vessels by indigenous players. The 10 per cent forecast can only be possible if the government put the right policies on the ground to encourage ship owners. But the question is, are such policies on the ground?
“Remember that the then minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, had said in 2016 that a new national fleet will be established within six months; three years after we have not seen a vessel not to talk of a fleet of vessels. Do not forget that a committee travelled to Singapore and a lot of noise was made about it, what is the outcome or how that affected the maritime industry?”
Similarly, Managing Director of Kotzmatz Media Konsults Ltd, Okey Ibeke, also explained that the right policies that will lead to the achievement of this projection, such as ship acquisition, should be in place first.
Ibeke noted that the two years projection is looking unachievable because there is just about a year left to bring it to fruitfulness.
In his words, “It is not feasible because for them to achieve that they are supposed to put a lot of things in place. When you are talking about increasing Gross Domestic Production, GDP, you will talk about the increase in indigenous participation in shipping.
“Will they use only one year to build the capacity? Both human and capital capacity that will increase the number of vessels being owned and operated by indigenous owners, will they achieve that within one year?
“When are they going to start disbursing this Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund, CVFF, that will enable indigenous operators to acquire vessels and employ Nigerian seafarers because it is all those factors that will increase maritime industry contributions to GDP.”