Nigerian shipowners have faulted claims by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) that it has so far provided jobs for 7,000 Nigerian seafarers.
In a chat with DAILY TREND NEWS, a frontline official of the Nigerian Shipowners Association who pleaded anonymity, argued that there are very few ships owned by Nigerians presently and this is due to lack of government support for the maritime sector.
Director General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside had at a function in Lagos last week claimed that the level of Nigerians employed onboard vessels increased when NIMASA started a process of cessation of granting of waivers to foreign shipowners.
But in reaction to this, the NISA top man said “Do we need to be reminded that there are too little local vessels around”
“Posting minimum of 20 seafarers on a ship will require about 350 vessels to accommodate them”
“Let’s assume the statistic covers since his (Dakuku) assumption of office, which is about 3 years, it gives an average of 120 vessels”
“Now, where is the 120 vessels in Nigeria? I don’t think this is realistic, even if foreign vessels are taken into the reckoning” he said
Meanwhile, Peterside has also assured that NIMASA would create incentive for investors who are going to build vessels in Nigeria, saying that no agency would be allowed to import vessels from outside, they must patronize vessels built in Nigeria.
He admitted that the Cabotage Law has been seriously abused over the years and this has forced NIMASA to begin implementation of the new Cabotage Compliance Strategy.
According to him, “NIMASA alone cannot achieve the aspirations, intents and objectives of the Cabotage Act. I believe that we have not done very well but there is need for improvement. The greatest thing that can happen to us to achieve the Cabotage law is collaboration and cooperation”
“If we leave NIMASA to drive the Cabotage law, till tomorrow, we will not achieve anything. But if the regulator, stakeholder and industry all come together, that is the only way we can achieve the aspiration of the Cabotage law.”