By Gboyega Oni
Ship chandlers have cried onto the Federal Government to save their industry from foreign dominance by setting up a standing committee to correct the anomalies plaguing ship chandling.
This is said to be responsible to huge revenue in billions of dollars and thousands of jobs being lost yearly to foreign chandlers by the nation.
Dr. Chukwuemeka Enebeli, the President of the Nigerian Licensed Ship Chandlers Association (NLSCA), cried out to the government while addressing maritime reporters on the appalling state of their profession in Apapa, Lagos last week.
Enebeli 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.
Blaming the Nigerian Local Content Management Board for its failure to implement the policy, he 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.
According to Enebeli, ‘ship chandling is strategic; a vessel cannot move without supplies. It is unfortunate that the industry has been hijacked by people who are not licensed. Nigerian chandlers handle less than 1 percent of over 2000 vessels that participate in the nation’s upstream sector as the multinational oil companies give out contract to foreign chandlers instead of Nigerians citing lack of experience, finance and others. All these are happening when there are existing laws.
’95 percent of activities at the upstream are allocated to Nigerians by the law; it is unfortunate that no Nigerians are doing the supply except as third party.’
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 Navy with many of their crew members languishing in detentions.
He informed that the three segments of the industry if well harnessed were capable of generating over 15 billion dollars and 500,000 jobs in agriculture, petroleum, pharmaceutical annually for the nation.
Speaking on their efforts to bring sanity to the industry, Enebeli stated that they had written series of letters to the government complaining and seeking intervention with no succour coming their way towards stopping the illegalities.
‘A lot of illegalities are taking place on our water under the guise of ship chandlers and those in government have formed alliance with shipping companies to take over our jobs.
‘We have written letters and petitions to government with no recommendation or action taken. We are using this opportunity to call on the Transport Minister, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senate President to put in place a standing committee than can give direction, create enabling environment, funding as solutions to various problems facing our industry,’ appealed Enebeli.