It is part of the solution but there must be a foundation before you can build. I buy the idea of establishing a national carrier but who is going to run it? Even if we have foreigners as the major partner administering it, there must still be a government agency in charge of it. It cannot be a Nigerian ship flying Nigerian flag without any administrative inputs by Nigerians. It has to be registered and the facilities that are required must be in Nigeria and there must be an agency that is responsible for it. But areas of capacity deficit that has not made us sustained shipping must be looked into before having a national shipping line or we do it concurrently. NIMASA has a law to encourage ship ownership, that law is more than seven years old and there is nothing on the ground. It is still that same law that is going to be used to establish the national carrier. There is deficit of human capacity development which must be looked at before establishing a new national carrier because even if you set up a committee at the ministerial level, when the carrier is established, the committee will fizzle away. So it has to go to the agency that is statutory established and if the agency is not prepared, it will go into ruin.
Engr. Olu Akinsoji
We are very ready to establish a national carrier because we have all the materials that we need to acquire it and that will help solve some of the problems in the industry. I think it is high time we do away with political appointment and go into more technical and professional appointment in the sector because we have people that can actualize the national carrier status. We also need to enhance and strengthen the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron because Nigeria today parades a lot of professionals in the industry who are getting old and they need to be replaced but right now if we don’t own a national flag, it will be difficult to train these seafarers.
Hon. Kola Adefemi
It is part of the solution because we have gone that way before and some of the master mariners that were there during NNSL are still around even though most have gone above 50, they are still active. The most important thing is for us to build our tonnage, our capacity. There are other advantages for a country to own as many vessels as possible. When this situation is met, the government will be forced to engage them. Today, we are talking about Nigerians not participating in the lifting of our crude; all those things will now be a thing of the past. I think it is a good idea for the Minister to think about establishing a shipping line. We may have reservations about what happened to NNSL but I will like to see proactive Nigerian minds, not looking back but when we do, we should be able to use what has happened in the past to work on what is going to happen in the future so that we won’t make similar mistake like we did in the past. Somehow, we are a bit complacent saying because it did not work before; it is never going to work. I don’t share that opinion. If we have a national carrier, the advantages are in view of the fact that the government is also thinking in terms of private sector partnership.
Yes it is. We are ready for it even long overdue to own a carrier. We have all the man power resources; we have the space and the maritime experts out there. When we had the national shipping line going, we had more people trained. All the maritime experts we have today are because we had a shipping line and there was a training process for them. Without a shipping line how many of these cadets can we train to the standard we are talking about? The deficit in man power development is not because we don’t have capable hands now, they have all being trained. The alarm now is that if these ones phase out there will be a lacuna if we don’t have capable hands to fill in the position.
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