By Godwin Oritse
THE Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has commenced moves to investigate the alleged abuse of the Coastal and Merchant Shipping Act, otherwise known as Cabotage Law, by foreigners.
Speaking to Vanguard Maritime Report on the sideline of the just concluded Federal Ministry of Transportation Retreat held in Lagos, Executive Director of Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services at NIMASA, Mr. Victor Ochei, said that there have been reports of abuse of the law in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, patronage of foreigners.
Ochei also said that an analysis of the report of the alleged abuse is currently being undertaken by the agency.
Ochei stated: “We are doing the analysis of the report, we are investigating it. The vessels could be foreign or local, we do not know for sure because these are some of the complaints we have received so far.
On why NIMASA is not able to stop foreigners from using payment receipts as waiver document, Ochei explained that once the payment is made for waiver, the application must be processed.
“NIMASA is duty bound to process waiver applications. Expectedly, the process is that you process your waiver and wait for the ministerial approval.’’
Recall that most of the alleged abuse of the law starts from when the waiver processing fee is paid to NIMASA, and instead for the applicant to wait for the outcome of their application, the foreign ship owners come into the nation’s water and begin to trade.
When confronted, they flash their receipt of payment of waiver application as waiver, a development that has put local ship owners and operators at a disadvantage.
The NNPC on its own part, Vanguard Maritime Report gathered, pay more attention to foreigners than Nigerians concerning coastal trade.