Foreign vessels still plundering our cabotage regime, indigenous ship owners lament

• Say no response yet from NIMASA, NNPC

Following an alarm raised in early May, 2021 by indigenous ship-owners about the plundering of Nigeria’s cabotage regime by foreign registered ships, indigenous ship-owners have expressed dismay at the deafening silence and non-response from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), more than a month after letters were written to them concerning activities of these foreign vessels.

Recall that in early May, indigenous ship-owners under the aegis of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) had revealed to the Nigerian Tribune letters written to NIMASA and the NNPC complaining about the activities of a Greek shipping company, Messrs UNIBROS, with eleven foreign-flagged coastal tankers that were plundering Nigeria’s coastal and bunkering vessel services.

In an exclusive chat with the Nigerian Tribune more than a month after, President of SOAN, MKGeorge Onyung lamented that the association is yet to get any feedback from neither NIMASA nor the NNPC on the matter.

According to the SOAN President, “On cabotage, I think that Nigeria needs to go back to the drawing board. For me, I think cabotage is workable. There should be no reason why anybody or agency should allow cabotage implementation to fail in this country.

“The cabotage law is explicit on three things: restriction of foreign vessel participation in our coastal trade; promotion of indigenous shipping development; and the establishment of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).

“However, here in Nigeria, everybody has just been talking about the CVFF fund, leaving the other two components of the cabotage law behind. To me, the CVFF fund will be workable only if the first two legs of cabotage are met. If our waters continue to be proliferated with foreign vessels and there are no deliberate efforts to promote indigenous shipping, then there is no need for us to be talking about the CVFF fund.

“I still want to reiterate my earlier advocacies that government agencies saddled with the implementation of cabotage and bunkering services must patronize indigenous ship-owners. We have written letters to the NNPC and NIMASA, but we are yet to hear from them. We have dialogued with their leadership at different periods, but we are yet to see any changes. All the letters that we have written to both NIMASA and the NNPC have not being responded to.

“I want to use this medium to congratulate the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), because without the NCDMB, indigenous ship-owners won’t have the kind of ships that we have today. Indigenous ship-owners have sophisticated ships in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry, and even in the downstream sector, we have been able to build capacity.”



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