…Calls for Registration of More Barge Operators
By DAPO OLAWUNI
President, Nigerian Licensed Ship Chandlers Association, Dr Martin Enebeli has said that most attacks that takes place on vessel are as a result of connivance between some Captains of the ship and its crew onboard.
In an interview with DAILY TREND NEWS on Wednesday, Enebeli noted that attacks on vessels on Nigerian waters has peaked further because over 10,000 seafarers have lost their jobs due to the Nigerian Navy clamping down on indigenous shipowners and killing their businesses.
He said that not less that 200 indigenous vessels have been arrested and detained by the Nigerian Navy, and this has thrown many Nigerians into the unemployment market.
The ship chandler called for registration of more barge operators to move containers and petroleum products, saying that this would further create more employment for seafarers.
Presently, the barge operators have been regulated to just 35, this is excluding the oil barges, he said that this is grossly inadequate for Nigeria with a population of over 200million people.
“The Nigerian navy has arrested over 200 indigenous vessels, and recall that these seafarers working on these vessels are Nigerians, and when they dont have jobs, the human nature is such that would start to tilt towards survival, at that point, they can be called upon to do anything that is nefarious’
“I also have to tell you that, it is the connivance between the captains and these boys they call to come onboard vessels to come and steal, it is not easy for you to just go onboard and say you want to carry out pirate activities, most of these acts are in connivance with the crew onboard these vessels, especially the foreign crews” he said
Dr Enebeli lamented that there are too many bureaucracies on Nigerian waters, especially in terms of security, permits and licenses issued by various government agencies, he said that this is further killing shipping business.
Speaking, Dr. Enebeli said “The barges, maybe due to safety hazards, have been regulated to about 35 barges, and we have 200 million population, this is very inadequate, how many people would they employ? The oil barges are not even working at all, and seafarers are supposed to man these barges and get employed in line with the good intentions of Mr President in creating jobs for the people”
“This regime has placed as a matter of priority, job employment for Nigerians, but when other agencies that are under this government are beginning to be stiffle minded, hunting Nigerians that are supposed to be doing legitimate businesses, of course, the rules of engagement in terms of survival would cause people to do one nefarious thing or the other”
“But I can assure you that once these bureaucracies are removed, and these ships and the barges are working, this issue of “Sea Thiefs”, because I dont call them pirates, it would be a thing of the past”
He said that Nigerian waterways would have been more safer in tandem with the good intentions of President Muhammadu Buhari if the arrests of indigenous vessel owners are discontinued and indigenous vessel owners are allowed to continue trading within Nigerian waterways.
He called for implementation of a single window project just like what is obtainable in other neighbouring countries, especially in harmonising various regulations and Acts.
“As it is, procreation is ongoing, the population is increasing everyday, the human want is increasing, the principles of demand and supply is heavily envisaged, so at a particular point in time, the water would find its level”
“The moment we get the waterways working well, barges are working well, we should now use a single window, in terms of regulation, we cannot have multiplicity of status, we have the Nigerian Customs CEMA law, we have the Nigerian Navy Armed Forces Act, we have the Shippers Council Act, we have the NPA Act, Immigration Act and all other multiplicity of regulations”
“These are also hindering what Nigeria would have benefitted as a hub, if the federal government as a point of necessity had made it clear and simple by getting an executive order to align these statutes and have a single window”
“Right now, every of these agencies are giving approvals, NPA, Navy, Customs and so on, all these on one cargo, when there is too much bureaucracy things won’t work, the idea and definition of shipping is about time, if you don’t have a good turn around time, it means you have failed from the beginning” he said