The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is now poised to redress lingering policy inconsistency which has remained the bane of shipping development in Nigeria.
It has identified lack of supportive institutional frameworks, neglected infrastructure as well as inadequate financing as major reasons Nigeria’s shipping potentials have not been fully exploited and maximized for the good of the economy.
Rectifying these and other stumbling blocks remain the magic wand needed to overcome the stunted growth the sector is presently saddled with.
NIMASA Director General, Dr Dakuku Peterside, stated this while delivering a speech entitled Effective Policy Implementation: A Panacea for Sustainable Participation and Growth of Nigerian Shipowners in the Maritime Sector at the just-concluded 2018 annual workshop organized in Lagos by the Ship-owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN).
He also pointed at poor policy implementation, limited stakeholder involvement at the point of formulation and implementation of policies that affect their operations, lack of the willingness to enforce the stipulations of policies coupled with the absence of the needed competence and capacity on the part of policy implementers to discharge their duties as appropriate. These and more constitute the bane of Nigeria’s shipping sector development.
Peterside recalled that there had been a plethora of maritime policies in Nigeria prominent among which are the Ship Building and Ship Acquisition Fund (SBSAF), the National Carrier Policy, the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF), etc. But despite these, he stated: “Why are we still where we are? Why has Nigeria not maximized the benefits of the policy frameworks?”
On what NIMASA is doing differently, following the emergence of SOAN on the scene and her consistent advocacy since 2015 on the best way forward, Peterside explained that that there has been collaborative partnership with industry stakeholders as exemplified in the current engagement with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to secure special single digit interest loans for ship owners, realizing that the shipping sector has the capacity to actively engage about 10 million Nigerians, thereby reducing the level of unemployment in the country.
NIMASA is also pushing for a special forex window for ship owners to procure vessels of modern specifications to be in a position to compete with their foreign counterparts. The agency, Dakuku Peterside announced, is also engaging with the Nigeria Customs Service to create special tariff regime for those brining in ships and their spare parts to reduce fiscal encumbrances they suffer presently.
As the agency is already supporting the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, to grow capacity to produce world-class cadets, it has also concluded plans to put about 500 cadets on vessels to acquire sea time experience, the audience was told.
Through the agency’s prompting, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, is now working with SOAN to actualize the FOB regime on crude oil lifting.
Even as the Transportation Minister is now set to disburse the CVFF in the first quarter of 2019, the DG announced, special waivers are no longer available for vessels that are not Nigerian-flagged, a policy deliberately designed to offer a competitive advantage to in-country players.
Peterside explained that in liaison with the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB), arrangements are now in place for ship owners to have fore-knowledge of the technical specifications of the types of vessels to be used in future to enable them conform to international standards at all times in going for such vessels. NIMASA is also set to meet with stakeholders to get their inputs as it is formulating a shipping development agenda spanning the present to the year 2025.
Source: Business and Maritime West Africa