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Finally, NIMASA gives date for disbursement of CVFF to indigenous shippers

The Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has finally succumbed to the legitimate calls by indigenous shippers to begin disbursement of Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).

Addressing the media in Lagos recently, he said the fund has risen to $124m and disbursement will take off between this year and next.

Peterside explained that during the period under review, there was an increase in indigenous participation in Cabotage vessels manning, ownership building and registration as a result of zero tolerance on granting waivers.

He added, “We have also witnessed an increase in total number of wholly Nigerian-owned vessels on the Nigerian Cabotage register. Half year result shows 125 vessels were registered representing a 33 per cent increase when compared with the 94 registered in the corresponding period of 2017.

Leading maritime stakeholders had reacted to a recent DG’s definition of NIMASA’s core mandate as advancing Nigeria’s global maritime goals as false, saying the real core mandate is nothing but developing local shipping capacities.

To stakeholders, there is no way the development of indigenous shipping could be complete without the routine disbursement of CVFF and TMF which are statutory provisions from contributions of shippers meant for access to shippers for acquisition of new vessels.

Peterside had at a media chat in Port Harcourt two weeks ago, claimed that “we are putting a lot of structures in place to ensure the Agency remains on a sound footing and our efforts have attracted commendation from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and stakeholders within and outside the maritime sector. We can only get better in our determination to make the Agency perform the functions for which it was set up and make it the leading maritime administration in Africa. This is why we are continuously working hard and poised to making Nigerians reap the benefits of the sector”.

However, in an interview, Mr. Lucky Amiwero objected Petersides’s definition of NIMASA’s core mandate, saying by the Act establishing the agency, “the mandate of NIMASA is to develop indigenous shipping industry with resources within its powers”.

“Key in the resources of NIMASA for the development of local shipping capacity includes The Maritime Fund (TMF) and Cabotage Vessels Financing Fund (CVFF) which are statutorily domiciled in NIMASA.

He said the CVFF for more than 10 years of its introduction has not been substantially accessed by any shipper and the inaccessibility is affecting vessel acquisition capacities of shippers. He said NIMASA cannot continue to confuse Nigerians on the core mandates of NIMASA as the duties of the agency are clearly written down in the establishment Act which is well known to every stakeholder in the industry.

Other stakeholders’ who spoke to our correspondents’ also disagreed with NIMASA DG, saying time has come for the former House member to stop contradicting gazette issues with personal definitions.

Majority of experts that commented on the matter on Sunday, hailed the disclosed plans to begin the disbursement of the TMF and CVFF so that indigenous shippers can acquire new vessels to compete favourably in the Central and West Coast maritime business.

They however, cautioned against dumping the disbursement after the given notification as it has been in the past.