In order to cushion the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic and the attendant nationwide lockdown on their business, Nigerian shipowners have called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to assist the players by renegotiating loan interests and extend moratoriums on loan repayments.
Chairperson of the Nigerian Shipowners Forum and former president of Nigerian Trawler Onwers Association (NITOA) Barr Margaret Orakwusi made the call in an interview.
Speaking on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the fishing industry in Nigeria, Orakwusi said it has impacted negatively on their operations because 90% of the industry are export bound, but that it has been very difficult to export products with the outbreak of the pandemic.
She also lamented that trawler owners are unable to process their goods due to the shutdown of most associated businesses. She said the pandemic has affected other countries they export to, especially those in the European Union.
“We have many vessels unable to set sail, with the resulting threat posed by criminal elements who would seek to take advantage of the current climate to attack vessels and this is a major risk we are monitoring”
“Most operators are indebted to financial institutions due to the capital intensive nature of our business and when a situation like what currently obtains takes place, loan repayments are still due, regardless. So we need government to cushion the effect on operators; the Central Bank of Nigerian should step in to see how loan interest rates can be renegotiated and, probably, extend moratoriums on loan repayments”
“This is a time to look inwards. We should drive exports, and drive patronage of locally produced goods. People are taking advantage of new business opportunities thrown up by the pandemic”
“Everyone has been affected negatively. There have been obvious logistics challenges brought about by the restrictions in movement and closing of many businesses. However, NIMASA, NPA, Shippers Council and other agencies have managed to keep port operations going” she said