Indigenous ship owners yet to take charge of Cabotage, says maritime lawyer

A maritime lawyer, Mrs Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore, on Wednesday said indigenous investors in Nigeria’s coastal trade had yet to take charge of the Cabotage Act since enactment in 2003.
Edodo-Emore stated this in a paper entitled: “Assessing the Impact of the Cabotage and Local Content Laws on Domestic Shipping Operations in Nigeria’’, presented at closing ceremony of Nigeria Maritime Expo (NIMAREX).
She said that the Cabotage Act on coastal trade was a well-intentioned legislation, which should stimulate domestic coastal shipping in the country.
Edodo-Emore said that indigenous ship owners were still unable to access the Cabotage Fund, which would have helped to increase the acquisition of vessels.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage Act 2003) expresses Nigeria’s intention to take full advantage of the benefits provided by its coastal trade.
The purpose of the Act is to restrict the use of foreign-owned vessels in coastal shipping.
“It is clear that apart from the enactment of this law, more need to be done to achieve effective implementation in order to deliver maximum benefits to Nigerians.
“Nigeria Oil and Gas industry Content Development Act 2010, popularly known as the Local Content Act is also a statutory tool to secure the active participation of Nigerian citizens,’’ Edodo-Emore said.
The maritime lawyer said that 12 years after passing of the Cabotage Act and five years after the Local Content Act, the laws had not fully impacted on domestic shipping operations in the country.
Edodo-Emore said that Nigerian-owned vessels and shipping companies had yet to take charge of the coastal trade and unable to access the Cabotage fund which would have helped to increase the acquisition of vessels.
“The Cabotage law is designed to benefit Nigerian operators and turnaround foreign domination of coastal shipping.
“A research carried out in the industry in the first 10 years of the implementation of Cabotage Act, (2004 to 2013) shows that foreign domination is still a reality.
“Within the period, more foreign-owned vessels were hired for Cabotage services than Nigerian-owned vessels,’’ she said.
Edodo-Emore said that foreign-owned vessels in the 10 years of the Cabotage regime had earned higher revenue than Nigerian-owned vessels.
she, however, said that the results of the research also showed that there were other steps to be taken which would bring benefits of Cabotage Act to the people it was designed to benefit.

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