By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) has once again made a case for local shipowners, even as it called on the Federal Government to disburse the monies that has accrued in the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) domiciled under the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)
President of the Master Mariners, Capt Tajudeen Alao while speaking with journalists on Saturday revealed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has now given slots to local shipowners under the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) to lift cargoes.
He however said that lack of funds has hindered the shipowners from taking advantage of this opportunity.
As at last check,the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr Bashir Jamoh said the CVFF has acrued more than $200million. He however said the money belonged to the Federal Government.
Capt Alao was speaking alongside a former President of the association, Capt Adewale Ishola.
He suggested that the Ministry of Transportation can direct the indigenous shipowners to be integrated and create one single company to access the CVFF fund.
“On the CVFF, the Federal Government hijacked the fund, it was created for the purpose helping indigenous practitioners build their businesses, people have contributed.
The CVFF should be given to the people it was meant for.
“Integration could be done, where four or five companies come together to lift crude.
NNPC has now given SOAN access to lift cargo, but they don’t have the money, the money they have, they cannot have access to it. And if you want to get a normal bank loan, it is a long process and the interest rate is high” he said
Capt Alao called for the establishment of a maritime bank in Nigeria, and not a Regional Maritime bank as it is being proposed.
He stated that the Nigerian Maritime Bank would go a long way in alleviating financial constraints of local shipping practitioners like, shipowners, ship chandlers and so on.
On this, he said “I do support the establishment of the maritime bank, the local one, because what they have right now is for the regional, we should have a maritime bank in Nigeria, the bank should stand alone, it should not be CVFF money and with a very low interest rate.
“The maritime bank as a financial institution should be supported by the Federal government, but it is the industry practitioners that should be the shareholders. The CVFF is money contributed by law for a specific purpose.
“The regional maritime bank that the Federal Government signed into, is for the Agrican region, it can be accessed by anybody
“The local one would have a favourable interest rate, and the people that would work it would not be general finance people, but those that understand maritime.
Shipping takes a long time for loan repayments” he said
The Master Mariners quarried the continuous collection of the 2% Cabotage levy being collected by the NIMASA.
According to them “The ship acquisition fund under the Shipping Decree 10 of 1987 is still there, where is the shipping policy?
Where is the ship acquisition fund?
Nobody is talking about the 3% that NIMASA is getting, the money was 2%, 1% was for administrative purposes while 1% goes to government, then the 2% local Cabotage money has come in again”