By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has announced that the Federal government is banning importation of certain categories of vessels from being imported into Nigeria from 2022 in order to further strengthen capacity of local ship building facilities.
Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside stated this at a press conference in Lagos on Friday.
Peterside said the decision to ban importation of vessels was taken by NIMASA and has been approved by the Ministry of Finance and necessary government organs.
He said that by 2022, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would stop granting foreign exchange, and the Nigeria Customs Service would stop issuing permit accordingly to importers of vessels.
The Cabotage Act 2007 was designed to empower indigenous operators to build ship in Nigeria and provide local capacity to run the ships.
According to Peterside, the agency drew up a Cobotage Waiver Cessation plan and discovered that the main reason why the Cabotage Act failed to work was as a result of the abuse of the waiver clause.
“One of the gaps we have identified is the abuse of the waiver regime, we realised that if we have to stop the waiver in its entirety, then we must begin to built certain categories of vessels here and stop importation of certain forms of vessels into the country, we have Nigerians trained to man all forms of vessels”
“We have commenced a number of engagements including with welders who would be involved with building of vessels, with entities of government who would be involved in aluminum production, steel development and other components required to build vessels”
“By the year 2022, certain categories of vessels would no longer be allowed to be imported into the country, the CBN will not give the forex, the Nigeria Customs would not issue any forms of permit. It is going to be graduated, and at the end, no vessel would be imported again” he said
Peterside revealed that NIMASA is working with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in an MoU to engage in joint ship building.
“We now have a common yardstick for categorisation of vessels, we have a five year forecast of vessel demand. This is to notify the Nigerian builders” he said
Peterside said there has been a general improvement in the vessels on NIMASA’s Special Cabotage Register.
According to him, between 2008 and 2019, the agency had 125 new vessels in her Cabotage register, representing 33% increase when compared 94 that was registered in 2018.
On Cabotage implementation, he confirmed that “In 2016, we boarded a total of 554 Cabotage vessels, but in 2018, we boarded 1,035 Cabotage vessels. Enforcement is not the only thing but compliance”
“We have stepped up the enforcement and it is beginning to yield results.
Before now we had only 234 vessels registered to participate in Cabotage trade, but by 2019 there has been an improvement, we used to have 234, but now we have 291″