The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) said a total of 125 new vessels have so far been registered under the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2013 (Cabotage law), representing a 33 percent increase in one year. This is even as the agency disclosed that fund accruing from the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) has hit over $124 million.
Speaking at a breakfast meeting with journalists in Lagos on Wednesday, The Director General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, said the money was still intact in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), even as he assured that the agency would disburse the fund “any moment between now and next year”.
According to Peterside, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi, has ordered a quick review of the guidelines for disbursing the fund, adding that as soon as the review is completed, the agency will commence the process of disbursement.
The NIMASA DG noted that most of the vessels registered under the Cabotage regime are owned by Nigerians, an indication that Nigerians are taking charge of the coastal trade within the nation’s territorial waters.
He said within the last six months, the agency has placed a total of 2,337 seafarers onboard cabotage vessels to acquire the mandatory seagoing experience.
“We are fulfilling our mandate of giving Nigerians the enablement of taking charge of Cabotage trade within our coastal waters. For us the prime target is not just to raise revenue for NIMASA or the government. Ours is to provide conducive environment for investment to grow.
“We have also engaged the Central Bank of Nigeria with the aim of reviewing the interest rate for those who are acquiring vessels and those who are investing in the sector.
The CBN is working closely with us to review the policy and the interest rate regime for those who operate in the maritime sector,” he said.
Peterside said the agency has also reviewed the freight rate benchmark for its three percent levy charged ship owners to reflect prevailing realities in the shipping business based on the request by operators.
The NIMASA helmsman, who reeled out some of the achievements recorded by the agency in the last one year, disclosed that the number of foreign vessels boarded and inspected under the Port State Control has grown by 10.3 percent, exceeding the 15 percent recommended target by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The development, he said has led to more quality vessels calling at the nation’s port as Nigeria is no longer conducive for sub standard vessels.
“Vessels calling at our port now comply with international rules and regulation and any that does not comply will be detained. Any vessel calling at Nigerian port today will have to check herself because it is likely going to be boarded by NIMASA, and likely be detained if it does not comply with set standards.
“In terms of Flag State Control or vessels registered under our registry, we have achieved 27 percent increase, indicating that sub standard vessels cannot trade on our coastal waters. In terms of coastal state functions, we have also increased our performance by 21 percent,” he said.