President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday said that lack of manpower development in the maritime industry stalled the implementation of the Cabotage law.
The President made this known at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Nigerian Maritime University and the NIMASA Shipyard at Okerenkoko, Delta State.
“We have Cabotage that will provide a lot of privileges to Nigerians but we are not maximizing the gains we are supposed to get in the maritime industry. This is because we don’t have the requisite manpower needed to drive the act,” Jonathan stated.
He also lamented the current state of affairs of the maritime industry.
“From the beginning, this country started so well in the maritime sector but we laid back that so many countries that we were ahead of when we had shipping lines going all over the world overtook us.
“They overtook us because we are not maximising the gains we are supposed to get in the maritime industry and this was down to the fact that we don’t have the manpower,” he said.
President Jonathan assured indigenous operators in the maritime industry of adequate government attention and protection.
He said the federal government plans to introduce a new economic concept that will also support the growth of the maritime industry.
“There is a new terminology called the blue economy coming up. It will talk about how we will marry our maritime resources for the gain of the society, from transportation to fisheries and others,” Jonathan added.
The President also warned those involved in oil bunkering to desist from act or face the full weight of the law.
Jonathan, who admitted that elimination of illegal oil bunkering in the country might be difficult, accused some influential people of sponsoring the illegal business.
He commended NIMASA for initiating the maritime university and shipyard and projects.
The president said the new university will place the nation’s maritime industry at par with those of its leading counterparts in the world and also enhance the nation’s economic growth.
Speaking earlier, Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, said the agency is working hard to enforce the Cabotage act.
He said, “Through public private partnership project, our capacity to enforce compliance with the requirements of the Cabotage law has equally improved.”
Akpobolokemi said NIMASA maintains physical presence in all remote areas of Nigeria’s maritime domain. He said security breaches on Nigeria’s waters have been reduced to a minimum level.
“As a result of our physical patrol of Nigeria waters now, incidences of security breaches have continued to decline in both frequency and scale of success.
“The last two years of our acquiring operational and enforcement capability has led to the arrest of 244 vessels. Their offenses range from piracy, sea robbery, economic sabotage/illegal activities to non-compliance with regulatory regimes and the evasion of statutory regimes and levies,” Akpobolokemi stated.
He said the new maritime university and shipyard were located in Okerenkoko because its geographical location will support their operation. He said that the university will help build capacity in the maritime sector and reduce dependence on expatriates in critical areas of the industry.