More agencies of the government have continued to buy into the ongoing activities if the National Fleet Implementation Committee (NFIC) set up by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi to drive return of Nigerian flag on the seas.
Addressing a visiting team of officials of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) led by its Director General, Mr. Alex Okoh, the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside expressed willingness to partner with the agency to refloat a National Shipping Line.
Peterside averred that shipping to an extent defines the growth trajectory of any nation especially as it relates to seaborne commerce.
The DG noted that the greatest asset in the maritime space is the vessel itself and if there are no vessels, one cannot be a major player. “You can only be a major player in name, but in reality you will not get maximum benefit from trade”.
Though NIMASA had failed to disburse both The Maritime Fund (TMF) and the statutory Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) to Nigerian shippers’ who had since his appointment, made uncountable requests for the disbursement, he noted that the only way to guarantee the efficiency and effectiveness of shipping, which will add value to the economy, is through the involvement of the private sector.
He recalled that the Minister of Transportation has initiated a process whereby people from the private sector will pull resources together to float a National Fleet, saying “The emphasis of the Federal Ministry of Transportation is to drive a process where we will refloat the National Fleet, this time with the core investors that will own 49 per cent of the shares, whereas, Nigerian Ship Owners will own 51 per cent of the shares of the firm and the firm will also be given the National Career Status. We are looking at different models, hence the importance of this engagement, so that we can review what has happened over time and choose the best model”.
Earlier in his address, the Director General of the BPE, Mr. Alex Okoh, emphasized that businesses are better managed by the private sector and that government has very little to do in business apart from creating an enabling environment for businesses to strive.
While assuring that the BPE will be willing to partner NIMASA in the quest to revive the National Unity Line in collaboration with the private sector, Okoh averred that “We have looked at the Nigerian Unity Line and the only tangible asset they have is operating license. The license confers on the enterprise certain privileges, deriving from the Cabotage Act and also from the Local Content policy. This can be the foundation for the building block of a virile shipping business in Nigeria”.