Indigenous ship owners have decried the Federal Government’s reluctance to enforcing the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2003 (Cabotage Act) to enable them participate in crude oil lifting.
A member of the group, Captain Niyi Labinjo, urged the government to overcome what ever that’s the hindrance and implement the law to allow indigenous firms to participate in oil business.
The country, he said, exports about 2.5 million barrels of oil yearly, wondering why indigenous ship owners are not empowered to lift about 1.5 million barrels.
The banks, the former ISAN scribe said, are willing to give them loans if the government could give them some quantities of crude to carry.
Labinjo said about five years ago, the government trained over two thousand cadets under the National Seafarers Development Programme. He noted that since there were not enough shipping firms to work with, the cadets have been jobless.
He advised the government to provide enough funds for the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Akwa Ibom State, to enable the academy to produce competent cadets.
He, therefore, sought proper compliance with Nigerian Content Act and encouragement of the association to participate fully in the cabotage regime.
“We will continue to press the government. We’ll continue to make our views known about the need for proper compliance with cabotage; about the need for proper compliance with the Nigerian Content Act.
“For instance, if I have a government that is insisting that this year out of the 2.5 million barrels of oil that Nigeria exports, 1.5 million barrels would be carried by Nigerians and they say, ‘ISAN take this 1.5 million barrels, go and carry it,’ we will gladly go to the bank; the bank will give us money and we will do it.
“So, if you say what is our expectation; then, we will say this year we will struggle to carry the one million the government has given to us and hopefully by next year, we will do 1.5 million barrels. That is the expectation.
“That is what has happened in the case of Brazil. Their government insists that they must use local content and the government approved about 700 agencies, which were issuing certificates of compliance on local content.”