Top flight shipping magnet and chief executive of Starz Investments Nigeria Ltd, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun has made it clear that the actualization of the vision of the Marine and Blue Economy Ministry relies on the establishment of a national shipping fleet.
According to him, without a national fleet, the new ministry will remain a floating policy without performance.
Speaking as a panelist at the Maritime and Offshore Awards; The OMIS, held in Lagos on weekend, the Edo-born former President of Shipowners’ Association of Nigeria (SOAN), noted that “You cannot participate in the Blue Economy in the maritime perspective without going back to reestablishing the Nigerian fleet. It could be a private sector driven initiative, it is definitely not for the public sector, at best, it could be a Public Private Partnership initiative but we must go global if we want to participate or say anything in marine and blue economy.
“In going global, we need to look at the hindrances why the steps taken to reestablish the National Fleet failed, so that the new government can overcome these impediments.
He recalled that “Some of us have been privileged to serve in various government committees, including the last one set up by former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. He had wanted to reestablish the National Fleet, so, we came out with various report.
Continuing, Ogbeifun said “The summary is that we have come out with various recommendations which this present government needs to go and look at and address. In a matter of months, we are going to have different entities, private sectors who have the means of attracting investments that would buy ships that can buy ships to carry out our import and export.
“Secondly, there are certain Nigerians that have ventured into owning vessels, but all the ships they imported, including NLNG who has about 26 ships trading globally, these ships are classed and registered outside Nigeria, in order words, there is a problem.
If we leverage on the new ministry of Marine and Blue Economy to aquire ships, we cannot flag these ships in Nigeria.
“So there is an urgency to look at NIMASA and see how we can make it internationally attractive, so that if by way of the Blue economy initiative, Nigerians begin to aquire new ships, they can be classed in this country, and the benefit of having our own tonnage classed here in Nigeria are very much, obviously, it is going to involve some legislative amendment, so let is send the Bill,” Ogbeifun summed up.