Members of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) have an active role to play in the formation of the new national shipping line proposed by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The Director General of NIMASA, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, disclosed this penultimate Thursday at the ship owners cocktail night organised by NISA in Lagos.
He said the NISA members would soon be formally invited to join a committee that would be set up by NIMASA for actualisation of the national carrier project. The project, according to him, is for the benefit of Nigerian ship owners and the Nigerian economy.
He said Nigeria remains the only member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) without a national carrier and whose crude oil is sold Free on Board. The trend, he said, must be reversed within the shortest possible time frame.
He said, “I thank the leadership of Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) for inviting the management of NIMASA for this dinner/interactive session. I think we need more of these informal meetings where we can freely discuss issues and brainstorm on things that are affecting the shipping industry in Nigeria.
“I am particularly grateful to the Chairman because he has been supportive to the agency and I think we also need to reciprocate.
“Now we all know the problems we are facing in the country; problems of cargo, funding, patronage etc. It is not easy doing things in Nigeria because of the level of bureaucracy, the various contacts that have to be made for things to move. But no matter how difficult things are, we must not be discouraged, just keep working and putting more effort to get to where we are going to.
“This year, I made a promise to NISA and the other stakeholders that we should get a national carrier comeback as quickly as possible. We have started the talks and the negotiations and the brainstorming.
“NISA is going to play a very critical role in this regard, therefore the leadership of NISA should make themselves available for the meetings, the engagement that will make this thing happen because this is just about one of the countries in OPEC that we have this sad situation and we must correct it particularly this administration where we have a President that can listen to issues that concerns maritime.
“We must not throw away this opportunity. I believe if we work very hard, it should take some few months for us to achieve that. It’s not a difficult thing to achieve.”
Speaking earlier in his welcome address at the event held in Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, Chairman of NISA, Chief Isaac Jolapamo, said the association is rebranding to meet with the challenges of modern times.
“The aim of this event is to enhance our effort at rebranding the association and making it an all inclusive vibrant association that represents our collective interest.
“In the year 2003 at the advent of Cabotage Act, a few of us; Capt. Iheanacho, Capt DO Labinjo and my humble self conceived the idea of an association that will represent the interest of the Nigerian Shipowners in the country. I am glad that this conceived idea gave birth to what we have here today.
“However, there has been many challenges, setbacks and what have you, despite all these challenges we are glad to say the association is still forging on,” Jolapamo stated.
The NISA Chairman said the quest to reposition the association is to enable it take its place in the development of the maritime industry in Nigeria.
He said a fresh election will be held in the third quarter of the year to usher in new leadership for the association.
He said: “In the twilight of my handing over the management of the affairs of the association to the would-be newly elected leader, I will like to emphasise that it is important for all shipowners to stand as one as our division has provided opportunity for the foreigners to exploit avenue of depriving us our benefits as enshrined in the Cabotage Act.”