… Jamoh Says Revised Cabotage Act to be signed by President Buhari Soon
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Even as the Ghana is getting ready to implement it’s Cabotage Regulations, the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) on Tuesday visited the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) with a view of studying what Nigeria went through and to avoid the pitfalls.
This is even as the Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh has assured that the amended Cabotage Act would be assented to before the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. He assured Nigerian Shipowners that the amendment would not affect the disbursement of the much expected Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)
Jamoh commended the visiting Ghana Maritime Authority officials, even as he recalled that the former Director-General of the Ghana Maritime Authority, Kwame Owusu conceived the idea of implementing it’s own Cabotage regime while at NIMASA for a strategic meeting years ago.
According to him, the opportunity to collaborate and partner with GMA would lead to growth and development in the maritime sector for Nigeria and Ghana, even as it strengthens partnership within the Gulf of Guinea coast.
Speaking on one of the critical aspects of Nigeria’s Cabotage administration which is the CVFF Fund, Dr Jamoh said NIMASA has rejected the 8.5 percent interest rate proposed by five commercial banks selected as primary lenders for the $350 million fund.
He said the agency is currently exploring better options for shipowners that would be selected as beneficiaries of the Cabotage Fund put together to empower Nigerian shipowners to take over the nation’s shipping business from foreigners.
He said the agency has started discussions with a new set of developmental banks that will be ready to back the agency by offering an interest rate that would impose burdens on Nigerian shipowners when repaying the loan.
“The commercial banks are offering 8.5 percent but we want them to reduce the rate. We are still discussing with the Primary Lending Institutions to ensure that shipowners get the best deal because we will never allow banks to impose unnecessary guidelines or interest rates on Nigerians. These are the core issue, the issue of interest rates will be dealt with and if we clear those grey areas; then we will disburse the fund before the end of the regime,” Jamoh said.
He promised that NIMASA will get the best bargain for the shipowners, adding that the CVFF guideline for the disbursement of the CVFF stipulates that shipowners will contribute 15 percent; the government will bring 50 percent and banks will provide only 35 percent.
“We are making contacts with development banks to see how much they can give to shipowners as interest rates though we are currently working with commercial banks. This is why we are consulting other banks to do a peer review before going back to the stakeholders.
Earlier, Patience Diaba, the team leader of the Ghana Maritime Authority’s delegation to Nigeria, said the team from Ghana came to Nigeria to learn about the implementation of the Cabotage Act.
Diaba, who is the director of Legal of GMA, said when the country learns from Nigeria, they will avoid the holes and go faster than Nigeria.
“We are here because we are about to implement our own Cabotage regulations. It is better to learn firsthand from the challenges Nigeria went through so we don’t need to go through the same,” she added.
The CVFF was established alongside the Nigerian Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act of 2003, to empower indigenous ship owners to take control of the nation’s coastal and inland shipping business, otherwise known as the Cabotage trade.
The approved PLIs for the disbursement of the CVFF are Union Bank, Polaris, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Zenith, and Jaiz Bank.