Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, has said that the agency did not at any time foreclose the possibility of granting national carrier status to the ISAN Shipping Line owned by indigenous ship owners under the aegis of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA).
While reacting to a story titled “Akpobolokemi’s Bombshell: Nigerian ship owners lack capacity to operate national carrier” published by Nigeria’s leading maritime newspaper, SHIPS & PORTS DAILY on Thursday May 15, 2014; the NIMASA helmsman stated that the comments attributed to him on the issue only implied that the agency would not bend the rules in its consideration for granting national carrier status.
While responding to the allegation, “NISA stated recently that you are frustrating their effort in making them achieve national carrier status”, leveled against the agency by a journalist on the sidelines of the groundbreaking ceremony of the Nigeria Maritime University and NIMASA Shipyard by President Goodluck Jonathan in Okerenkoko, Delta State on May 10, 2014, Akpobolokemi had said: “This is a country of due process, a country of accountability and transparency. Our laws are very clear and simple. For you to acquire the status of a national carrier, you must have certain things part of which includes owning a vessel that has a capacity of 5,000 metric tons or more. You must have 60 per cent Nigerian ownership and so many other things and when they want to register, they don’t have these things. Should I flout the law? No. If any Nigerian has the intention of having a national carrier license, they should come and fulfil the minimum conditions as entrenched in our Act, then we will help. When we ask of a vessel, they say it is not available. The manpower is not available. How do we grant them the status?”
But in a reaction sent to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, the NIMASA helmsman speaking through the agency’s Head of Public Relations, Isichei Osamgbi, stated that his comments did not connote a lack of capacity for owning or operating national carrier by NISA.
“Indeed, Section 35 (A-G) of the NIMASA Act 2007 stipulates the requirements for the granting of a National Carrier status by the Honourable Minister of Transport, on the recommendation of NIMASA.
“It is worth noting that the Director General of NIMASA is very passionate about the floating of a National Carrier because of the benefits such will have on the Nigerian flag, Nigerian seafarers and shipping development in the country.
“It will also be recalled that the management of NIMASA has always engaged and continues to engage the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) as a major stakeholder on the development of the Nigerian maritime sector with both parties remaining partners in progress,” he stated.
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