At last, NIMASA moves to enforce Cabotage Law

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) seems to have finally woken up to its responsibility of implementing the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2003 otherwise known as the Cabotage Law.

The law, which is a protectionist law, aims to make coastal shipping the exclusive preserve of Nigerian shipping companies.

The law stipulates that vessels trading on the nation’s coastal waters must be owned and crewed by Nigerians. Such vessels must also be built and maintained in Nigerian shipyards.

NIMASA has been accused of complicity in the shoddy implementation and flagrant disregard of the law by foreign oil tankers and international oil companies (IOCs).

But in a meeting with the IOCs in Lagos recently, NIMASA Director General, Dakuku Peterside said that the agency would no longer tolerate disregard of the law by the IOCs.

He asked the IOCs to be mindful of all existing laws and regulations in the discharge of their duties “as applicable sanctions will be meted out to erring companies”.

He said a situation where the IOCs engage foreign vessels to do jobs that Nigerian operators have adequate capacity and equipment to do, will no longer be tolerated as this has been a major bane in the development of Nigeria’s shipping industry.

“You must give us ample notice of vessel requirements so that we can engage indigenous operators who have the capacity to do the job instead of giving it to foreign operators,” he told representatives of the IOCs.

“The spirit of the Cabotage Act is not to generate revenue in terms of waivers but to build the requisite capacity for indigenous players which will in the long run generate wealth and create employment for Nigeria’s teeming population,” he stated.

While commending the IOCs for their compliance level with payment of statutory levies to NIMASA, he said the argument on the payment of Cabotage levies on Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSOs) facilities and other offshore platforms was unnecessary.

“By our laws, FPSOs and other offshore platforms are Cabotage vessels that are subject to NIMASA’s regulation and payment of statutory levies,” he stated.

“Whether you are into shipping or shipping related business, NIMASA has a role to play in ensuring that the business is done seamlessly without security risk and not at the detriment of the Nigerian state.

“Therefore there is the need for you to cooperate with NIMASA especially in the area of information sharing,” he said.

“We will not fold our arms and watch while you do damage to our environment because environmental pollution is life threatening,” he warned the IOCs.

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