Covid-19: oil price crash expose Nigeria’s lack of indigenous capacity —SOAN

•Says waste dumping caused dead fishes in Niger Delta

THE Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) has revealed that the presence of Covid-19 pandemic and the crash in oil price both exposed Nigeria’s lack of indigenous capacity in shipping.

This is even as the group fingered waste dumping as the major reason dead fishes appeared recently along the Niger Delta coastline.

Speaking to the Nigerian Tribune exclusively, President of SOAN, Mr George Onyung stated that no indigenous ship operator participated in the delivery of essentials needed in the fight against Covid-19.

According to the SOAN President, “The Covid-19 pandemic really challenged our indigenous capacity. Also, the crash in oil price has left many of our members out of contracts. During this Covid-19 pandemic, indigenous shipping really suffered in Nigeria.

“Take a look at the quantum of supply of essentials that are coming all over the world to Nigeria in her fight against Covid-19, indigenious operators are not part of it. Years back, we advocated for an improvement in Nigeria’s indigenous shipping capacity, but all these fell on deaf ears. Now, Nigeria needs delivery of essentials to fight Covid-19, and foreign shipping lines are the ones benefiting from the delivery chain. Nigeria is not part of it because she does not have international cargo vessel.

“Look at what is happening in the oil tanker business around the world, Nigeria is losing out. If we had about 20 crude oil tankers in Nigeria, indigenous operators will be able to participate fully and bring benefit to the country as oil prices increase.

“Right now, as I speak to you, we have received letters from the International Oil Companies (IOC) asking us (indigenous operators) to reduce our rates. If you are in a contract with somebody, you just don’t in the middle of the contract ask the other party to reduce his rate. This still boils down to lack of capacity in Nigeria’s oil tanker business. If we were involved in the transportation of our crude, we won’t be too helpless as we are now.”

On dead fishes appearing on the Niger Delta coastline, Dr. MKGeorge Onyung pointed accusing fingers at illegal waste dumping.

“The issue needed to be investigated by the responsible agencies of government. It could be down to a possibility of waste dumping, or how else can somebody explain the appearance of so many dead fishes along the Niger Delta coastline?

“This is a situation that can lead to another pandemic if the fishes are consumed by unlettered residents in some of these Niger Delta communities. It is only in Gambia that fishes die because there is no much fishing there. That cannot be so here in Nigeria because our people do a lot of fishing. It’s important that the issue should be investigated.”




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