A new national shipping line is in the offing, says Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi.
Speaking yesterday at a national workshop on public-private-partnership (PPP) strategy for infrastructural development and modernization in the Nigerian maritime industry, Akpobolokemi said that the new national carrier, which already has the approval of President Goodluck Jonathan, will be afloat within the next six months. He said the new carrier will be floated on a PPP basis.
He said the defunct Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) went under because it was purely a government business which was poorly managed. He said that the new national carrier will ensure that the nation’s crude oil and other vital cargoes are lifted by Nigerians.
“In the next few months, we will work with the private sector to get our national shipping line back because it is important for our development. The government will have minimal participation.
“It is a huge economic waste that most of our hydro carbon is being transported by people other than Nigerians and I don’t think the agency can have the patience or keep waiting, drastic measure must be taken,” he said.
Akpobolokemi also assured cadets of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron that his agency will provide sea-time training for them.
He said, “The agency is spending massively in training of seafarers to get sea-time abroad but should the national carrier be on, the government won’t be spending much on the training.
“If a shipping line is floated, we won’t spend a third of what we are spending to train our cadets abroad today.
“The president is pushing us to work on the national carrier issue and the way to go is to bring private people not the government. The government will only provide an enabling environment with minimal participation. The private sector will manage it.”
Speaking at the same event, Chairman of the Nigeria Indigenous Shipsowners’ Association (NISA), Chief Isaac Jolapamo said his association was ready to partner with the federal government to ensure the successful floating of the new national carrier.
He said his association has a pending proposal before NIMASA on using a PPP to refloat the national shipping line.
“The government may have a different approach on how PPP will be achieved. They may say one group should merge with the other but let us see what they will come out with,” he stated.
He said NISA will not mind joining forces with other groups to make the national shipping carrier a reality.
“I don’t know the format the government wants to use to achieve this; whether it is two, three or four groups coming together but the bottom line is that it would be a good thing if the government can get it done in the next six months,” Jolapamo said.