By Sandra Chukwunyere
The challenges and years of graduating from Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa Ibom State, as cadets, marine engineers or even seamen with only classroom experience, without practical knowledge of what ships look like is over.
The Executive Director Finance and Administration, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Bashir Jamoh stated this in an exclusive interview with our Correspondent at the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport event held in Lagos at the weekend.
On MAN ORON, the ED said that:”We are doing our best, MAN, Oron is part of the challenges we have. Today you go to the classroom, you teach and produce marine engineers without simulators. So we haven’t provided the basic need that will enable you accreditations within the international maritime organisations and within the educational centres. You are going to teach someone to become a pilot, and he doesn’t know how aircraft looks like. So if they are going to teach someone as a marine engineer, ship captain and other things like that,and you don’t have simulator that will show him that this is a typical ship, this is how we operate the ship and this is how it can go, then there will a problem.
These are the things we are about to provide there, maybe by the next semester we will be able to provide simulator at MAN Oron.”
According the financial expert, ”on the issue of ship registry, we just inaugurated a committee between NIMASA and Operators ( stakeholders).That committee will
see how we can build our ship registry.
Well,in the first place, you know that the issue of cabotage law was made for ship owning companies and maritime industry to build capacity. That is one of the major reasons of the cabotage law was put in place. I
can take you a little bit about the cabotage law,before any prospective shipping trading company can be cabotage compliance, it must have ship fully owned and maned by Nigeria. The construction /building must be in Nigeria and registration must be in Nigeria.So its absolutely from your own concept, the foreign dominant is completely eliminated. But what we do as a gap measure, those things that we don’t have like for instance in times of building, we don’t have capacity to build ships. In terms of the industries that are building the ships or the iron you can use to build the ships and other things like that, the cabotage act provides way out by granting waivers so that is where the foreigners can come in and participate. We now have to give them a kind of waiver/ penalty to pay so that is why they are coming into it”
He continued: “How are we supposed to get out, the cabotage act provides 2% surcharge for those operators, this 2% surcharge is deducted from the revenue they are getting in terms of their own contract. That means, when they receive contract probably from the IOCs, international/multi national cooperation, especially those that are operating in their own industry, they will have to collect 2% surcharge, the total sum of the contract. This money is what made up what we call Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)
This funds is being dedicated and kept in the favour of operators that are operating under cabotage and those people contributing this money. They have upper hand to assess that fund and own those vessels. So the problem has been there since 1996 when we finished the disbursement of the other regime which we called SHIP Acquisition and Ship Building Fund(SASBF) where the government set certain amount (fund) to assist the indigenous participation into the shipping /maritime trade. We granted them loans and at the end of the day,they were unable to pay back. So for us to administer this fund which we call CVFF, we are looking at the same thing and security of that money so that it will not make the same mistake we made during the last funds failed. So they will not refuse to pay. So that is what we are looking up and following the guideline and see that the way out. You know shipping is capital intensive, we must see how we can assist the indigenous operators financially and must be sincere enough, when they collect the loan, so that they will administer the loan as at when due and where they supposed to put the fund and not to go and invest them in other businesses. Otherwise, when they can have alternative source of funding, we are working tirelessly to see what we can do.
On how foreigners dominating on our waterways, the ED has this to say
“They also have to employ helping hands to ensure that they get rid of those foreigners coming to our own territories and taking back the resources we have back to their own country. And here our children will not work, the maritime industry is dying and other things like that.And am sure very soon we have to get to the end of the particular problem.”
Speaking about his recently launched book: ”Harnessing Nigeria Maritime Assets”,The ED said that:
Harnessing Nigeria Maritime Assets” The basic reason I decided to write that book, I looked at this government, when this government came, they said that they want to have ZERO tolerance on source of revenue in Nigeria and they try to build capacities in terms of Agriculture and everyone in Nigeria believe that this government has succeeded in agricultural sector. So I said to myself, “why should I spend these number of the years in the maritime industry and I will not be able to harness the maritime industry. So that motivated me to go and choose the topic and write that book on HARNESSING THE MARITIME ASSETS.”
On what he considered to be the Nigeria Maritime Assets, he was of the opinion that:
“We have over 852km of coastal lines from Badagry to Calabar, that you can trade on, apart from trading on shipment ,you have a lot of resources like fish, shrike ship but yet foreigners use to come and do the fishing and other things like that. Then if we look at the shipping industry itself, you think of building industry, repairs, dry docking of ships and other things like that. You can go and build a hotel, hospitality and leisure places where people can go, enjoy and relax by the sea side. So, all these things
are maritime assets that we need to harness and we are not harnessing them.