By DAPO OLAWUNI
Chairman of Starz Investments Nigeria Ltd and former President of Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) Eng Greg Ogbeifun has said that the newly established Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy would not thrive without the establishment of a national shipping fleet.
Ogbeifun stated this while speaking as a panelist at the Maritime and Offshore Awards; The OMIS, held in Lagos on Saturday.
Ogbeifun commended the Federal government for establishing the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, even as he tasked the private sector take advantage of this in order to aquire vessels.
“The creation of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy calls for an urgent reaction by the private sector.
12 years ago, I was privileged to be the first Chairman organising the Nigerian Maritime Expo (NIMAREX)
In my opening remarks, I called on the President of Nigeria to consider establishing a Ministry of Maritime Affairs.
“Now that the government has responded by creating the Ministry, what is our own response? Government has done their best.
“You cannot participate in the Blue Economy in the maritime perspective without going back to reestablishing the Nigerian fleet. It could be a private sector driven initiative, it is definitely not for the public sector, at best, it could be a Public Private Partnership initiative but we must go global if we want to participate or say anything in marine and blue economy.
“In going global, we need to look at the hindrances why the steps taken to reestablish the National Fleet failed, so that the new government can overcome these impediments.
“Some of us have been privileged to serve in various government committees, including the last one set up by former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. He had wanted to reestablish the National Fleet, so, we came out with various report.
“The summary is that we have come out with various recommendations which this present government needs to go and look at and address. In a matter of months, we are going to have different entities, private sectors who have the means of attracting investments that would buy ships that can buy ships to carryout our import and export.
“Secondly, there are certain Nigerians that have ventured into owning vessels, but all the ships they imported, including NLNG who has about 26 ships trading globally, these ships are classed and registered outside Nigeria, in order words, there is a problem.
If we leverage on the new ministry of Marine and Blue Economy to aquire ships, we cannot flag these ships in Nigeria.
“So there is an urgency to look at NIMASA and see how we can make it internationally attractive, so that if by way of the Blue economy initiative, Nigerians begin to aquire new ships, they can be classed in this country, and the benefit of having our own tonnage classed here in Nigeria are very much, obviously, it is going to involve some legislative amendment, so let is send the Bill.
“We cannot talk about dangers of importation of dangerous goods of we don’t have a ship, it is the ship owners that have the responsibility” Ogbeifun submitted