By DAPO OLAWUNI
Even as the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has continued to delay disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) to indigenous shipowners, a frontline shipping expert and President of Nigerian Institute of Shipping (NIS) Capt Tony Onaharigho has advised that the money be used to acquire Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC) and Ultramax vessels in order to trade in crude oil lifting.
The CVFF was established in 2007 and it is a fund derived from the contributions of shipowners.
The money is reported to have reached $124 million and it is domiciled under the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
DAILY TREND NEWS recalls that the CVFF (then, Ship Acquisition Fund) long time ago was disbursed to Nigerian shipowners but the money was misused by the beneficiaries who failed to return back the money, this created fear in the mind of the government.
Capt Tony who is also the Deputy Registrar of Ships for the Liberian Government said that the federal government can eliminate any kind of fear by putting up a very stringent measure in terms of good collateral from the shipowners.
He lamented that the crude oil lifting by foreigners in Nigeria is about 98%, saying that Nigerian vessels are not given a chance to lift their own product.
But, he argued that with the purchase of the vessel, federal government can now compel the oil companies to be nominating the vessel for contracts.
He said “I am part of the industry, and I would not say that they should leave that money there, because that money could raise another money if ships are acquired, it would reduce unemployment, it would create employment for us and also bring finance and the industry would be opened”
“The CVFF should be used to buy Very Large Crude Oil Carriers (VLCC) or Ultramax Crude Carriers (ULCC) these vessels would be registered in Nigeria, they would fly Nigerian flag, the Cabotage effect would be there because seafarers would be onboard, our students can do their IT on the vessel”
“So, instead of leaving the CVFF idle, let the government go and buy VLCC with it, the money generated from one can buy another one. After buying the VLCC or ULCC, we can now compel the oil companies to be nominating the vessel always”
“The government can manage the vessel, we have master mariners and PHD holders lying around, even the Executive Director Finance of NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh is a PhD holder, myself, I am a PhD holder, if the Liberian Government can call me to come and manage their vessel, why can’t I manage the one for my country”
“What does it take to manage a vessel, you get a good master mariner with a foreign going ticket, a ship engineer with a foreign going ticketAnd of you don’t have, you can bring somebody from Russia, but from those two positions downwards, it would be Nigerians” he said