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More outrages are still pouring out from major players in Nigeria’s local shipping circle following weekend’s comment by the Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside.
Business Hilights recalls that on Sunday, May 26, in Abuja the Rivers State born former House of Representatives member, had said he aims to be the first DG to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) since it was created in 2003.
Recall that the CVFF was established in 2003 mainly to promote indigenous shipping through loans to local operators to re-fleet their capacity ahead of becoming Africa’s shipping giants and leaders in emerging Blue Economy campaign. According to the Act, CVFF is made up of contributions from indigenous operators by way of fees imposed by NIMASA.
But checks showed that not a dime had been disbursed contrary to the spirit of the 2003 Act, rather Ministers’ of Transportation within the period till date had been shifting the goal post of the disbursement as indigenous shippers continue to suffer recession and poor capacity development till date.
Those that managed to acquire vessels did so under harsh banking conditions for loan. The development had made Nigerian shipper not to compete even within the West coast shipping industry till date.
Peterside claimed that he has been meeting with relevant stakeholders ahead of the readiness of his agency to commence the disbursement.
In an interview, he responded to a question bordering on endless promises by the Federal Government over the disbursement, saying “You are very correct that since the inception of the Cabotage regime, the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) has not been disbursed but we are set to break the jinx.
“We are getting the necessary support; it is the responsibility of the Minister of Transport to give final approval for the disbursement of the fund.
“We are engaging both industry stakeholders, the honourable minster and Mr. President on the need to disburse the CVFF but the minister has expressed concern that he doesn’t want the fund to go the way of other funds.
“So, we are going to engage with CBN, the commercial banks, we are on course and am satisfied we are making progress, I believe that this year the CVFF will be disbursed, ’he said.
Peterside however revealed that the almost gone Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has directed for a quick review of the guidelines governing the disbursement of the fund for progress to be made.
According to him Amaechi has directed that we quickly review the guidelines governing the disbursement of the fund so that the fund will be accessed by those who will benefit from it.
NIMASA boss further claimed that “For the purpose that it’s meant for, to build capacity, to enable them build capacity and compete with the rest of the world.
“The ultimate purpose of the fund is that it should help bring down the cost of fund to enable stakeholders to acquire vessels and build up capacity,” he said.
“However, said that part of what the agency intended to do within the year was the enforcement of Cabotage Law which would bring more Nigerians into the shipping trade.
“We will prioritise the enforcement of the Cabotage Law which will include a programme to fizzle out the issuance of waivers, so that Nigerians can benefit from coastal trade, Peterside averred.
However, NIMASA DG’s remarks is coming after the outgoing Minister of Transportation had done his last press briefing and account of stewardship without making any comment on the matter, thus creating serious room for doubts.
Besides, several industry stakeholders who spoke to our correspondents on the bogus assurance said they are no more convinced on any official promise made by the agency as it has shown defaults over the years on moving the industry forward.
They argued that for the Minister not to make any related comment or remarks means that the DG of NIMASA is on his own and lacks the trust them to believe him on CVFF.
The stakeholders said their only hope now is for the President to appoint an industry expert who will decode the importance of the fund to the shipping sector as a new minister of Transportation.
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