AKPOBOLOKEMI’S BOMBSHELL: Nigerian shipowners lack capacity to operate national carrier

Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, has dashed the hope of indigenous ship owners under the aegis of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) of obtaining a national carrier status for their ISAN Shipping Line.

Akpobolokemi who on Monday indicated government’s plan to float a new national shipping line within the next six months, said the members of NISA lack the capacity required to own and operate a national carrier.

While speaking with reporters in Okerenkoko, Delta State over the weekend, Akpobolokemi said: “This is a country of due process, a country of accountability and transparency; our laws are very clear and simple on how to acquire the status of a national carrier. If you are to acquire the status of a national carrier, there must be certain things you must possess most of which NISA doesn’t have.

“According to the act, anybody that wants to acquire the status of National carrier must own vessels that have capacity of 5000 metric tons or more; must have 60 percent of Nigeria transportation and so many other things, but do they have it?”

Akpobolokemi, who acknowledged receipt of the application for registration of ISAN Shipping Line as a national carrier submitted by the indigenous ship owners about two years ago, added that, “If any Nigerian has the intention of having a national carrier licence, they should come and fulfil the minimum condition as entrenched in our Act, then we will be of help.”

“When we ask of a vessel they said it is not available, the manpower is not available, how do we grant them the status?” he asked rhetorically.

When contacted, the chairman of NISA, Chief Isaac Jolapamo, confirmed that his association had a pending proposal for a national carrier before NIMASA. He however declined further comment on the issue.

“I won’t be able to comment now until we meet the DG on this issue,” he said.