By DAPO OLAWUNI
As Nigeria sets to boost it’s Cabotage trade with USD700 million new vessels, there is hope rising for Nigerian shipowners as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has announced the involvement of the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission (NNPC) by providing 9% out of the 15 per cent required from the shipowners.
The NNPC would also be providing contracts for the vessels and cargoes to be transported.
Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh on Tuesday disclosed this while delivering a lecture at the Institute of Maritime Studies (IMS) University of Lagos.
Dr Jamoh assured that Nigeria’s coastal shipping will soon be boosted with about USD700 million new vessels.
According to him, the Federal Government is expected to provide half of the required funds, USD350 million, the Primary Lending Institutions (Banks), 35 per cent and the shipowners, 15 per cent.
Dr. Jamoh further disclosed that due to the complaints of the shipowners that they cannot be able to provide the 15 per cent of the fund required from them, the NNPC offered to assist the shipowners with 9 per cent of the fund while they will provide just 6 per cent.
According to him, NIMASA is targeting the acquisition of about 28 as each of the vessels will cost about USD25 million.
He added that the cabotage fund which will be disbursed to Nigerians at just 1per cent interest rate is aimed at stimulating investment in the nation’s huge blue economy and boost job creation potentials of the industry.
He said “The shipowners have been crying to me that they cannot afford the 15 per cent but the NNPC has come to their rescue by promising to provide 9 per cent out of the 15 per cent. The shipowners will provide just 6 per cent. NNPC will provide the cargo and collect its money back through the freight for the cargo.
“It is a win win situation for the NNPC who will have ready vessels for its cargo, the shipowners who will have ready contract for their vessels while paying off their loan without hassles and for the young Nigerians maritime profession, job is assured. This will be concluded before the last day of this administration,” he stressed.
While delivering the lecture themed: “From Crude to Blue-Nigeria’s Blue Economy: The Imperative of Maritime Domain Awareness & Good Governance”; Dr Jamoh stated that with the level of security and safety of navigation achieved in the Nigerian maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea since the commencement of the national maritime security initiative tagged, Deep Blue Project; Nigeria is really ripped to transit from ‘crude’ to blue economy.
Dr. Jamoh stated that the Nigerian blue economy is very huge and far bigger than the Nigerian oil/gas industry which for over 50 years has been the mainstay of the nation’s economy.
He said that it is in the effort of NIMASA to enhance Nigeria’s capacity to exploit its share of the global blue economy valued at over USD2.5 trillion that it started the human capacity development initiative which saw it establishing the IMS in six universities across the six geographical zones of the country and a full university in Okerenkoko, Delta State.
The Director General also disclosed that it is this objective that informed the three point agenda; security, safety and capacity development which his administration adopted on his assumption of office over two years ago.
Also speaking, Minister of State for Transport Mr Ademola Adegoroye said that the government will do everything possible to make it easier for Ship-owners to acquire more ships to grow Blue Economy initiative.
Adegoroye also said that the ministry is working hard to ensure that the CVFF is disbursed before the end of the current administration.
According to the Minister of State for Transportation, “The fisheries sub-sector is another area the government is working very hard to create jobs for our people and make water transport easier for Nigerians.
“Absolutely, that is what every responsible government would do but I can assure you that Government will do everything to make it easier for Ship owners to get more ships that can continue to grow our Blue economy. It makes sense for every responsible government to do that, once it gets too expensive, it becomes a problem even for our economy.
“We are hoping and praying that we disburse the Fund before the end of the current administration. We have a short time. We have barely eight weeks but I know they are working day and night to achieve this. It is possible; if not, government is a continuum. It is a government policy and nobody can do anything about it.”
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola said that by the revelations that have been made by Dr Jamoh in his lecture, “there are really a lot of untapped potentials in the Nigerian maritime industry.”
According to her, since the inception of the IMS of University of Lagos a few years ago, no fewer than 150 students have graduated in different maritime courses from the Institute while it currently has 193 students studying different maritime courses.
“Our country must not continue to depend on crude oil. We must turn ‘blue’, she said.
The Acting Chairman of NIMASA board, M. D. Abubakar, the Head of the Institute of Maritime Studies University of Lagos, Prof. Matthew Ilori, Barrister Margaret Orakwusi, Capt Taiwo Akinpelumi were among the top industry bigwigs that attended the event which was held at the J. F. Ade Ajayi Main Auditorium, University of Lagos.