By Gboyega Oni
The management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has been taken to the cleaner by ship chandlers over its undue penchant for revenue generation than the maritime development, its core function.
The chandlers, under the aegis of Nigeria Licensed Ship-chandler Association (NLSCA), said the present NIMASA management had concentrated more of its energy on revenues generation with no attendant impact on the industry while their jobs were being given away to foreign chandlers by owners of vessels that operate on the nation’s sea and particularly in the upstream sector of the petroleum industry.
Speaking the minds of his members, Dr. Chukwuemeka Enebeli, NLSCA President, stated this while addressing maritime press in Apapa, Lagos last week on the appalling state of ship chandling in the country.
He noted that before the advent of NMA, now NIMASA, they were operating unhindered under the Nigeria Customs regime whenever they wanted to board vessels. But under the present NIMASA, they were finding it difficult to access vessels in the course of providing supplies.
According to him, the nation is losing billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs to foreign chandlers yearly.
Enebeli said NIMASA is more of a tax collecting and contract awarding company rather than maritime developing agency. He noted that less than one percent of Nigerian chandlers were engaged by the multinationals in the nation’s petroleum upstream sector to provide supplies for more than 2000 vessels and other oil facilities which operate in the sector as against the 95 percent allocated to Nigerians by the Nigerian Local Content Policy.
He said that all the needs of these ships and other oil facilities were being contracted to foreign chandlers in connivance with some Nigerians in government with excuses that Nigerian chandlers lack experience and finance.
Enebeli said over 300 members of the association are presently jobless with attendance losses in other sectors such agriculture, pharmaceutical, petroleum industry that would have provided the supplies.
On the international vessels, the number one chandler said the situation was the same as all the supplies of over 15,000 international vessels that call at our ports were provided by foreign chandlers as only Nigerian chandlers acted as third party in the supply.
In the area of cabotage, Enebeli rued lack of vessels that could have provided jobs for his members in the sector, noting that many local vessels had been arrested by the Nigerian Navy with many of their crew members languishing in detentions, asking ‘where is NIMASA?’
Enebeli stated that though NIMASA has qualified staff but its management distanced itself from ship chandlers and other stakeholders, this, he said, could have given NIMASA ample opportunity to know their plights and come up with workable solutions.
According to Enebeli, ‘Our problem with NIMASA is lack of communication. NIMASA is now a tax collecting and contract awarding company forgetting its core functions. The management has not deemed necessary to call for us for a meeting to know our plight but rather globetrotting with no attendant effects on the industry. What is happening to the three percent levy and sea protection levy? What have they done with the money?’
Chandlers are the professionals licensed by the Nigeria Customs Service to supply the needed items such as food, wines, engine spare parts, pharmaceuticals, etc, onboard ships.