The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has said that it was working with the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT) “to resolve all grey areas and ensure seamless distribution” of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).
NIMASA Director General, Dr Bashir Jamoh, stated this at the just concluded ministerial retreat organised by FMOT in Lagos.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, had said that despite the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari authorising disbursement of the CVFF to eligible ship owners, the money accrued to the fund will not be disbursed because of a stumbling block mounted by the Federal Ministry of Finance.
“Concerning the disbursement of the Cabotage fund, the President made an approval saying we should go ahead and disburse. So also the Attorney General, but the law says it is private money. However, the Ministry of Finance has protested that it is a public fund, so what would I do? I’m handicapped,” the Minister had told reporters on Friday on the sidelines of the two-day ministerial retreat.
However, the NIMASA Director General, Bashir Jamoh, said the fund is intact and is nestling in the Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA), where from it will be disbursed to eligible ship owners.
“We have advertised for Expression of Interest from interested Primary Lending Institutions (PLIs) and we are following due process to ensure disbursement according to the guidelines.
“Eleven banks have been shortlisted and forwarded to our supervising ministry for further actions. The ministry has identified some grey areas, which are being addressed to ensure prompt disbursement of the CVFF,” Jamoh was quoted as saying.
The NIMASA Director General also said that the agency would soon commence an exercise to remove wrecks from the nation’s internal waters.
Jamoh also said that the agency has concluded “arrangements” with Bayelsa State Government and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), which already has a foundry in Lagos, for the recycling of recovered wrecks.
He also said that the agency has received approval for the establishment of the Maritime Intelligence Unit and the NIMASA Maritime Stakeholders Experience Contact Centre (MSECC), which are both initiatives to improve intelligence gathering and enhance stakeholders’ communication to ensure sustainable growth of the country’s maritime industry.
He also disclosed that the automation drive in the agency had led to the integrated use of technology in the Certificate of Competency (CoC) verification process.
“In 2020, the number of manual verification of CoCs dropped from 4,112 in 2019 to 2,750, representing 33 per cent drop in manual certificate verification. There was a total online verification of 9,723 in 2020,” he said.
He also said that 446 beneficiaries of the agency’s National Seafarers Developmnt Programme (NSDP) are currently undergoing sea-time training, while 351 have been assigned to maritime training institutes and are in the process of boarding for sea-time.
He added that 93 beneficiaries of the NSDP were currently undergoing CoC, 360 had completed sea-time training and were awaiting CoC issuance, while 368 beneficiaries of the NSDP project were already fully employed.
On the issue of vessel monitoring and response to distress calls in the sub-region, Jamoh stated that the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) equipment at Tarkwa Bay and Kirikiri, both in Lagos, were fully installed with the capacity to cover nine countries in the West and Central African region.
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