By Godfrey Bivbere & Gideon Nnaemezie
Nigeria is losing billions of naira annually to foreign insurance policies by shipowners in the country following failure by indigenous insurance firms to pay claims whenever cases arise.
Disclosing this in Lagos yesterday, First Vice President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria, SOAN, Eno Williams, lamented that one of his vessels that was gutted by fire about five years ago was still at the dockyard following the instalment payment of claims by the local insurance firm.
He said: We lose non-refundable billions of Naira on a yearly basis. So, you can imagine if we had a P&I club here, the government is going to make a lot of money, we the ship owners are also going to benefit. Also, it is going to create lots of jobs. We have started it at the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria, but we need the government to partner with us in that direction.”
Williams explained that as a result of delay tactics or inability to pay claims as at when due, ship owners had resorted to taking up insurance policies with the foreign insurance outfits, which they pay billions annually.
The first vice president who spoke at the pre-event briefing for group’s forthcoming event with the theme “Ocean Blue Economy for National Development,” said they had commenced plans to establish a local P& I Club to take care of the insurance needs of its members.
He said “The Nigerian Insurance Industry has not lived up to the billing in the shipping industry. I give you an example, this ship you are seeing here (pointing it) got burnt while delivering a service at Chevron. As we speak, next month would make it five years this ship is still at the shipyard. The insurance would pay today x amount and tomorrow they would pay one little one here and so on, whereas if I had done it in London, they would simply issue a credit note to the shipyard.
“A job that would normally have taken six to eight months, we are now spending five years in fixing that problem. So, that is the problem with our insurance companies.”
“They need to come to the game they have not come to the game yet. They may be trying but they have not been able to come to the game to be able to kick off all of these things. It would not be nice for us to talk about local content and when it comes to an insurance policy, we go outside then it means we are not encouraging the local industries.