15 January 2012, Sweetcrude, Lagos – Indigenous Ship Owners Association, ISAN, has decried the lull in coastal shipping business, following the refusal of oil marketers to imports petroleum products occasioned by the petroleum subsidy scam.
Secretary of ISAN, Capt Niyi Labinjo, who disclosed this, said that since marketers stopped importing fuel their vessels have remained idle pending when the entire issue will be resolved.
Labinjo maintained that even the Petroleum Product Marketing Company, PPMC, has refused to patronise local shipping companies to move its petroleum their products.
He maintained that PPMC, the marketing arm of the Nigerian national Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, only engaged foreign shipping companies to move its products within the nation’s coastal waters, a practice, he argued, is against the Coastal Shipping Act, otherwise known as the Cabotage Act, adding that most of the jobs meant for Nigerians were given out to foreigners.
He noted that the local shipping industry is currently at its lowest ebb, adding that any further move to frustrate indigenous operators will lead to total collapse of that sector.
Explaining further, the ISAN scribe said that members had made representation to successive governments, with a view to reversing the situation to no avail, adding that as a result, government was losing a minimum of N2.1trillion annually, and this can be proven with records and statistics.
His words, “After the oil subsidy ‘wahala’ (crises) last year, say since March of last year, many oil traders have not been importing because of government’s restriction on payment of subsidy. So what happened is that suddenly the patronage of Nigerian ships dropped, so since March last year, many of us have not had jobs; go round all the shipping firms we are all groaning.