SHIP owners in Nigeria want the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, to give maximum support to them by ensuring that they get local contracts to keep them in business. Aminu Umar, acting president, Nigerian Ship owners Association, made the appeal at a stakeholders’ forum organised by NIMASA in Lagos.
He stressed the need for the agency to encourage the participation and engagement of local ship owners. He said, “Fifty per cent of NIMASA’s responsibility is to promote indigenous shipping. Another 50 per cent is for safety regulation; so encourage the engagement with us.”
Firras Abboud, managing director of SNL, specifically urged NIMASA to support local ship owners to win the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s contracts. He said, “Nigerians have invested in a lot of tonnage in the past seven to 10 years, driven by the Local Content Act. In the last two years, we saw a lot of irregularities and NIMASA was playing second place.
“We would like NIMASA to take the leadership position in the fight to restore the right of Nigerian ship owners. While the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was giving out contracts left and right, NIMASA watched as foreign vessels operating under the veil of Nigerian companies, which had no capacity, took contracts from people who had invested in hundreds of millions of dollars. These people, some who are here today, borrowed money from Nigerian banks, at ridiculously high interest rates.”
Other issues discussed included the registration and certification of vessels, which ship owners described as faulty and time consuming. They criticised NIMASA’s rejection of vessel certificates from international classification societies.
They also called on NIMASA to enforce the provisions of the MLC 2006, which ensures that seafarers enjoy standard work conditions and welfare. They lamented the maltreatment of Nigerian seafarers on some Nigerian flagged vessels due to NIMASA’s slow disposition to punish defaulters. In addition, they called for the training of NIMASA’s surveyors to be brought to international standard, to enable them to issue certificates to Nigerian flagged vessels.
Earlier, Dakuku Peterside, director-general, NIMASA, had said the meeting was arranged to get stakeholders to agree on the direction of Nigeria’s maritime industry. He said the agency was being driven by a new vision to promote indigenous shipping and ensure that Nigeria’s waterways were safe and the oceans clean.
Peterside said, “We want to hear from you how we are performing. The strength of NIMASA is not in the enabling Act, it is in the people we serve. Somehow we derailed of that vision. That is why we are here today, to hear from you how we can chart a new course, your assessment and evaluation of our performance. We are not ignorant of the fact that our territorial waters are competing with others for investment. NIMASA is not just a regulator; we are also in business to attract investment. We know if we don’t buckle up, there are other alternatives.”
As part of measures to build capacity for indigenous ship-owners, the agency said it had encouraged bareboat charter. This involves getting indigenous companies who lack the ability to acquire vessels, to charter them from foreign interests.
— May 23, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT