Nigeria is overdue for an active national shipping fleet that will properly position it in the comity of maritime nations.
The national fleet will energize the maritime sector, retain huge spending on freight in-country and create job opportunities to grow the economy.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, stated this in Lagos when he played host to members of the National Fleet Implementation Committee (NFIC) at the headquarters of NIMASA.
He declared the Agency’s readiness to support the Committee, saying, “The national fleet implementation is long overdue and so NIMASA will work assiduously with the committee to ensure that the national fleet is restored to its past glory so that our nation can be reckoned with in the comity of maritime nations.”
According to him, NIMASA had taken a lot of steps towards developing the maritime sector and increasing indigenous participation. He detailed the measures to include repositioning of the Nigerian Ship Registry; securing a special tax regime, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Nigeria Customs Service; and changing of trade terms from Free on Board (FOB) to Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF).
Others are engaging the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in negotiation for one digit interest rate for Shipowners to help in the acquisition of maritime assets; collaborating with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board; and supporting the Nigerian Navy in capacity building.
“The national fleet implementation will create employment and wealth opportunities in Nigeria. The focus lab will also help Nigerians to understand the maritime sector and bring the players together to solve and understand issues better,” he said.
The Chairman of the committee, Mr. Hassan Bello, during his presentation enumerated the work done so far by the committee and solicited NIMASA’s support. Bello also requested a joint briefing with NIMASA to the Honourable Minister of Transportation to get his buy-in on the need to go through the Focus Lab to realise the Nigerian fleet project. He said there was need for the Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Budget and National Panning to write a joint memo to the Federal Executive Council and other relevant arms of the government for approval to hold the lab.
NFIC was set up by the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi, to work out modalities for the establishment and sustenance of a Nigerian Fleet.
It should be recalled that Nigeria had a lot of vessels under the Nigeria National Shipping Line (NNSL) before it was liquidated in 1995 and this is a major effort to resuscitate the National fleet.