By DAPO OLAWUNI
Even though the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi announced last week that the government is ready to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) by year 2020, Capt Tony Onoharigho, Deputy Registrar of Ships for Liberian Government has advised government against it.
The CVFF fund as enshrined in the Cabotage Act, is a contribution by Nigerian Shipowners for the purpose of developing their business. The fund has now accrued $300million and it’s domiciled under the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)
Capt Tony, President of Nigerian Institute of Shipping (NIS) advised that rather than give the money directly to shipowners, government should use the CVFF proceeds to buy crude oil tankers and set up a committee to oversee management of the vessel.
According to him, the crude oil tanker vessels would be owned by Nigerian Shipowners in conjunction with the government on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
Speaking with DAILY TREND NEWS yesterday, he said “Government should not release the money to individuals as it used to be, the first ship acquisition fund that was released before now was given to individuals and some of them did not buy good vessels, this was what brought about the stringent measures in accessing the CVFF fund”
“What the government can do is to form a PPP arrangement, the government and the business men should come together, the government would acquire the vessel and form a committee that would oversee management of the vessel”
“The committee could make up of government officials, shipowners and others. If you leave it for the government alone just like the Niger Line did, it would go underground because government alone cannot manage a shipping line” he said
Capt Tony warned that if should give the CVFF money to Nigerian ship owners without putting some stringent measures in place, it would go the way of the first ship acquisition fund where most of the beneficiaries never refund back the money.
Some of the beneficiaries reportedly acquired “rust buckets” (old ships) and spent the rest of the money to marry more wives and take concubines.
The NIS president insisted that even though it is the shipowners that contributed the CVFF money and it was designed for them to buy vessels, the government hand must be involved in the process.
Speaking he said “My recommendation is that they should concentrate on acquiring tanker vessels and not cargo vessels, they should buy one or two VLCC (Very Large Crude Carriers)
“The government should also make it mandatory that whenever their VLCC arrive at NNPC, it should be given priority to load our crude oil to the international market.By so doing, we can generate more money to buy more vessels”
“We are currently running FOB, but by then we would be running CIF and the I and F would come to us because of the cargo” he said