Former Nigeria’s Alternate Permanent Representative at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Engr. Olu Akinsoji, has called on the Federal Government to provide incentives to ships registered under the Nigerian flag.
Akinsoji made the call in an article titled “Succinct Comments on the Lame Duck: The Nigerian Cabotage Regime” where he articulated his views on why the legislation is not working.
The former Government Inspector of Shipping and former Administrator of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron also stated that lack of confidence in the Nigerian maritime administration by most ship owners has led to their refusal to their reluctance to fly the country’s flag on their vessels.
“Most vessels presently operating under the Cabotage regime are registered outside Nigeria because we have not demonstrated enough capability to give confidence to the owners of such vessels. Our limitation is apparent from the fact that most of the ships that are registered in Nigeria gradually deteriorate in fitness, taken out of class and eventually abandoned to become wrecks. The situation that is partly attributable to the weak survey and certification administration system,” he stated.
Akinsoji siad that reversing the trend required incentives to vessel owners, national policies on fiscal measures that were flexible and attractive, transparent, among other initiatives.
He said: “Attractive ship registration and shipping administration require comparative incentives, national policies on fiscal measures that are flexible and are attractive, cooperation with owners, understanding and sincerity of purpose and firmness. The administration must be transparent, efficient, predictable and consistent. Information must be available, accessible, clearly understood and the process friendly enough to attract prospective owners”.
On the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), the marine engineer said this would only be lawful if the beneficiary craft was built in Nigeria. He argued that disbursing such fund to a vessel built outside the country would be an unlawful act.
“The disbursement of CVFF for ship acquisition can only be lawful if the ship acquired emerges from lawful action that is the ship is built in Nigeria according to the definition above. Disbursing CVFF Fund to procure operational ship built outside Nigeria as a Nigerian Cabotage Vessel is an unlawful act.
“The development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity should be interpreted bearing in mind the vessel building requirement of the provision of the law. The policy drive should be to encourage recognized Nigerian ship building yards by strengthening them and assisting them to collaborate with international yards to gain more experience and grow in the process of building or assembling ships,” he stated.
He said only recognised classification societies like Lloyds Register, Germanisher Lloyds, American Bureau of Ships and Bureau Veritas should be allowed to supervise built in Nigeria vessels.
“Please note that building ships at this stage of our development should strictly be under the supervision of highly rated Classification Society and I will recommend only any one of these four: Lloyds Register, Germanisher Lloyds, American Bureau of Ships and Bureau Veritas who are top members of the International Classification Society – A consultative member of IMO.
“Using part of the CVFF as seed money for this course under a planned programme will provide sustainable social and economic development inherent in the Cabotage regime. Building of ships will not only provide jobs but also influence smaller technological industry such as building of vehicles and heavy industrial machineries as was the case of industrialized nations like South Korea”, Akinsoji stated.