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How NIMASA skipped roadmap talks on growing local commercial shipping at AMAA

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The 2017 conference of Association of African Maritime Administration (AAMA) hosted by Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in Abuja, has come and gone without serious discussions and roadmap on how to deepen the core functions of the agency.

According to the spirit of the Act establishing NIMASA, the core objective of the agency as provided in Section1-(i) and (ii). Section 1 (i) made it clear that NIMASA is created to promote the development of indigenous commercial shipping in international and coastal shipping trade; Section 1 (ii) also empowers NIMASA to regulate and promote maritime safety, security, maritime pollution and labour.

Still in the Act, there is the provision for the establishment of Maritime Fund under Section 17 and the Act stipulates that the money in the Fund be applied for the promotion and development of indigenous shipping and shipping infrastructure in Nigeria. Unfortunately none of these issues were on the programme for discussion throughout the international conference hosted by NIMASA with the aim of growing Nigerian maritime industry with ideas and experiences expected from other well developed African maritime nations.

Analysts say for the fact issues bordering on the core function of NIMASA which is growing indigenous shipping were skipped at the multi million naira conference, nothing was therefore gained other than mere talk show which has nothing to add to the industry.

Many of the shippers who attended the event decried inability of NIMASA not to disburse either the Maritime Fund as provided by the establishment Act or Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) as provided by the Cabotage Act in the last 11 years.

The Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside had during a World Press Conference in Lagos about a month ago claimed his leadership is still trying to resolve militating issues on the disbursement of the funds without any form of explanation.

At the conference, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said “As things stand, Nigerian and African fishing grounds are being pillaged, its waters polluted, and piracy is heightening maritime security and causing increases in the cost of maritime insurance and trade”.

“Our country has to continue to develop the maritime sector beginning from the national level, regional and sub-regional level.

From the revelations of President Buhari, it was clear that there is need for the development of indigenous shipping capacity and this can only be possible when local shippers are empowered using the two funding windows provided by the Act establishing NIMASA and the Cabotage Act.

According to Mr. Borha, a maritime consultant, “It is either NIMASA disburses CVFF so that local shippers can boost their fleet and grow coastal shipping or let NIMASA throw open the coastlines for international shippers”.

In the same vein, former Minister of Interior and chairman of Integrated Oil and Gas, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho in an interview frowned at NIMASA’s continued blockage of the disbursement of CVFF so that local shippers can be empowered to grow.