By Izuchukwu Ozoemena
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), will no longer encourage the application of any form of waivers under the Cabotage Act, particularly for oil firms operating in Nigeria as such does not help the growth of the Nigerian maritime sector and economy in general.
NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, stated this in Lagos while speaking during a meeting with the Oil Producers Trade Sector (OPTS). The agency, he disclosed, has concluded plans to end such waivers.
In a statement, Isichei Osamgbi, the agency’s spokesman, quoted the DG as urging industry players to draw up a five-year strategic plan for the cessation of application for Cabotage waiver and also pursue the utilization of Nigerian-owned vessels for marine contracts. According to the DG, “Our laws forbid foreign vessels operating in our territorial waters save for compliance with the Cabotage Act.
“We also want to increase the number of Nigerians who participate in the marine aspect of your business and we are working closely with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to have a joint categorization of vessels operating under the Cabotage Act in order to ensure the full implementation of the Act.”
Dakuku urged the international oil companies (IOCs) to support NIMASA’s bid to ensure full implementation of the Act, adding that it would equally be of more benefit to the investors in the sector as it will be cost-effective for them to engage Nigerians.
Commenting on the previous resolutions with the OPTS, Dakuku stated that there was need for the trade section of the oil producers to fulfill their own part of the agreement.
He said NIMASA will not compromise the growth of the maritime sector, especially concerning the enforcement of statutory regulations as enshrined in the agency’s empowering instruments. In a bid to grow the industry, NIMASA will not hesitate to wield its powers where necessary as the agency’s mandate is strictly regulatory. But in doing so, the DG noted, the agency would prefer engaging key players in the industry for symbiotic benefits.
“We don’t want to change our rules of engagement to a confrontational one because the mandate we have is that of the Nigerian people, to grow shipping for our economic benefits. In this wise, we urge you to cooperate and collaborate with us where necessary so that we can have an all-inclusive maritime sector,” the Director-General stated.
Peterside stated that the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), which is an interventionist programme of the agency, was making serious headway in creating sea time for the over 2,000 graduates of the programme.
In his remarks, the Executive Director of OPTS, Bunmi Toyobo, said the trade section was ready to comply with all directives of NIMASA. OPTS comprises major oil companies. He promised that the information required by the agency to build and harmonize its data for better regulation of the sector would be provided by OPTS.
The meeting which was well attended by OPTS, had in attendance managing directors and representatives of major oil firms including Total, Exxon Mobil, Shell, and Agip, amongst others.