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Amaechi may end up not driving national air or sea carrier before leaving office—Experts

Contrary to earlier hopes and believes, both stakeholders’ in air and sea transportation are beginning to nurse fears of gross failure in the establishment of either a national shipping line or airline before the end of this administration.

This, according to Business Hilights investigations, stemmed from the palpable silence that has come to trial the hitherto regular mention and pronouncements by the Minister of transportation, Chibike Rotimi Amaechi immediately he was appointed the Minister.

First on maritime; more than one year after a technical committee on new national shipping carrier, set up by the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi submitted its report to his office; it is becoming clear that the dream has been killed by lack of political will and official inconsistency.

Lead to this narrative was given in an interview with Engineer Olu Akinsoji, a renowned marine engineer and former Nigeria’s Alternate Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The Administrator, Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron from 1992 to 2000 and Government Inspector of Shipping from 2000 to 2001 who served as a top member of the Ministerial Committee on the Establishment of a National Carrier explained that since his committee submitted its interim report, they have not heard anything concerning the implementation from the government.

He said the committee and the minister in concurrence had agreed to begin creation of an environment for Nigeria to be able to have their own ships or even for foreign investors to come into the system and have confidence in putting money into buying ships and flying Nigerian flag.

But more than one year, we have not heard anything from the government on which direction we are to go on the matter.

On air transportation, some experts who spoke to our correspondent on Sunday, feared the possibility of government dumping the earlier plan of floating a national carrier.

Whereas some of them traced the cold feet to the recently exited recession, many others fingered lack of political will to do so within the timeframe of this administration after all.

It would be recalled that earlier last year, and before some local airlines began to face paucity of fund and takeover by the AMCON, there had been ideas and strong signal that government may wish to merge some local airlines to become a national carrier, but the idea died a natural death.

But just like the constant position of the maritime investors’ on establishing a national carrier, members of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ARTI), on Friday last week in Lagos observed that the best bet for government should only be to create an enabling environment for interested investors to operate the planned national carrier.

ARTI’s reservations about government involvement, just like their counterparts in shipping, were hinged on the disturbing development in the industry and the opaque conceptual issues attached to the proposed national carrier.

In a statement by its secretary, Olu Ohunayo, aviation experts averred that “We support the establishment of a national carrier devoid of government financial input but driven strictly by investors. Government should provide the necessary enabling ground and aero-political support environment”.

“The ARTI’s support for this project is hinged on our recognition of the desirability of a national carrier and the observed floundering of our flag carriers on the international routes. These shortcomings are traceable to weak government policies and poor negotiation skills in various agreements.

“Therefore, the proposed national carrier should be granted full compliments of the appropriate status, and independence to be the arrowhead in the implementation of operational issues arising from Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreements to which Nigeria is a signatory unhindered by any concessions or agreements however made.”

Besides, ARTI called for revocation of all existing concessions and agreements from which benefits were being derived by individuals or corporate bodies that are capable of impinging on the operations of the proposed national carrier.

According to them, “Any outstanding obligations arising from agreements made prior to the emergence of the national carrier must be renegotiated between the national carrier and such flag carrier which will be supervised by the regulator, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority,” ARTI noted.

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