Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has blamed the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for killing Cabotage business in Nigeria through its continuous engagement of foreign ships for lifting petroleum products in Nigeria.
Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari while speaking on Channels Television, claimed that the corporation has only engaged shipping companies approved by NIMASA.
According to the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003 Revised 2007, a foreign vessel and its company must obtain a Ministerial Cabotage license for registration to operate in coastal services in Nigeria.
Kyari was responding to criticism from the President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Dr. Mkgeorge Onyung who criticised the continued jettisoning of Nigerian ships for NNPC coastal contracts.
SOAN had protested NNPC’s continued breach of the nation’s law on local content, particularly it’s failure to create commercial opportunities as an enabler, towards the enhancement of in-country capacity in the downstream petroleum supply chain.
In a protest letter signed by Dr. MkGeorge Onyung to the Senate recently, the shipowners pecifically called attention to what the country would have benefited in terms of a more buoyant economy and employment opportunities, if Melee Kyari had been favourably disposed to obeying the law of the land, and collaborating with SOAN.
In his defence, the NNPC boss stated that NIMASA has given waivers to the foreign companies engaged by NIDAS shipping, the shipping logistics arm of NNPC.
A recent contract to foreign vessel owners for coastal shipping of petroleum products in the downstream petroleum sector saw NNPC award the coastal and bunkering vessels service to Greek shipping company, UNIBROS Shipping with eleven foreign-flagged coastal tanker vessels.
The objective of the Cabotage regime is primarily to reserve the commercial transportation of goods and services within Nigerian coastal and inland waters to vessels flying the Nigerian flag, owned and crewed by Nigerian citizens and built in Nigeria.