The Managing Director, Heritage Bank, Mr Ifie Sekibo, has called for disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) and provision of bank loans to shipping investors at cheaper rates.
Sekibo made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the ongoing First Regional Conference of International Africa Ports and Harbour (IAPH) in Abuja on Tuesday.
According to him, there is cabotage and shipping fund which ship owners should take advantage of.
He said that the banking sector was still struggling to provide the long-term funds requested by the ship owners.
“We are still struggling with the kind of long-term funds they need to achieve the level of optimisation they are looking for.
“We are also engaging with the critical stakeholders to make sure that they get the kind of funds they need at reasonable rates, but it is not what can happen overnight.
“Commercial rates today are in the neighbourhood of between 20 and 23 per cent, while Cabotage funds has a lot of lower rates between nine and 12 per cent.
“Infrastructure to decongest the ports, such as construction of Inland ports, need a lot of financing,’’ Sekibo said.
He said that availability of the right financing with high level of equity funding would help in creating structures.
Sekibo said that participants from the banking sector were attending the conference to understand the processes and plans of port operators for banks to give guarantee for easy operations.
He said that Heritage Bank was part of the conference and looking for a way to fund vessel owners to improve Nigeria’s Cabotage trade.
Sekibo said after foreign vessels had stopped at Lagos ports, available cabotage vessels would tranship the cargo to the neighbouring countries.
He said that Heritage bank was also partnering with the African Export-Import (Afrexim) Bank to ensure Nigeria improves on the national carrier.
Sekibo said that there was need for government to formulate a policy to improve infrastructure development on hinterland connectivity to enable the banking sector to contribute meaningfully.
He, however, gave the assurance that the banking industry was ready to support and enable Nigeria to be the hub in the West and Central Africa Region. (NAN)