More clarity has emerged on why the idle $100m Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), domiciled in Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), need to be immediately disbursed.
In an interview with the President of Nigerian Shippers Association (NISA), Aminu Umar, he brushed away claims in some quarters that indigenous shippers do not exist and those existing are not seaborne.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi had in an outburst said government will not disburse the fund because the figure he is hearing does not exist.
However, Umar maintained “There are ship owners who also participate in the upstream oil and gas. In the downstream sector alone, we have nothing less than 20 to 25 active ship owners that are in the tanker business and in the upstream, we have 50 to 100 and they are paying their taxes and employing Nigerians. So I believe they are running legitimate business”.
On the rising taxes levied on shippers, NISA boss noted that “There is a charge called extra war risk charge which is put on the insurance of every ship that comes into Nigeria waters. This is charged by the insurance companies that insure our vessels”.
“However, up till today, they have not been able to remove Nigeria coast from this war risk zones because we are being categorized as a war risk zone. In addition to this, we have our government charging us what is called sea protection levy which I understand is for the government to put in a fund for the protection of ships that transit or operate within Nigeria waters.
“These charges are still there in addition to the war risk that we pay to the insurance companies. So far, the combined associations of insurance companies have not removed Nigeria from the war zone list but if after certain number of years there is no incident of piracy on our waters, then we might be removed from the war risk zone list. But so far we are still there and we are paying heavily on our insurance. In fact we are paying double of the charges.
On how much an indigenous ship owner pays for sea protection levy on a vessel, Umar averred that “It depends on the size of the vessel. Some vessels pay about N10million per annum. A small vessel might pay about five million naira per annum while a big vessel can pay up to N15million”.