Nigerian ship owners groan over huge debts

Nigerian ship owners are owing banks over $3 billion (N480 billion), according to their Chairman, Chief Isaac Jolapamo.

The Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) Chairman disclosed this in Lagos penultimate Friday at a meeting held by the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar with stakeholders on policy guidelines for the granting of ministerial waivers under the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2003 otherwise known as the Cabotage Law.

Jolapamo said not less than 50 per cent of Nigerian shipping companies have been thrown out of business due to poor implementation of the Cabotage Law.

Both Jolapamo and the Secretary of NISA, Capt. Niyi Labinjo, called for immdeiate removal of the waiver clause contained in the Cabotage Law.

The waiver clause, according to Labinjo, has been made more important by the Ministry of Transport at the detriment of implementation of the Cabotage Law itself.

“I am alarmed at the kind of the vessels that are granted waiver in Nigeria. Instead of giving waivers to specialized vessels in consonance with the dreams of the initiators of the Act, we end up giving waivers to anchor handling and tankers which the Act did not envisage for waiver,” Labinjo stated.

He said: “In other climes, they do not leave the administration of waiver to be handled by the ever busy government officials like the Minister, Permanent Secretary or NIMASA, but rather an all inclusive exercise where applications were received by the agency concerned and forwarded to the stakeholders who do the needful and make recommendations to the implementing agency which now carry out the recommended action.”

Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, said the federal government in conjunction with Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) were open to receiving contributions from stakeholders on how to make the Cabotage regime work better.