08 May 2014, Abuja – Participants at the 2014 Nigeria Maritime Exposition (NIMAREX 2014) have called on the Federal Government to boost indigenous capacity as a way of ensuring the sustainable development of the maritime sector of the economy.
Those who attended the exposition which took place in March in Lagos this year posited that it is only when Nigerians take the front seat in shipping that Nigeria can get to the desired height in the maritime industry.
A communiqué issued at the end of the exposition which is styled after the offshore technology conference (OTC) in Texas, United States of America (USA) said Nigeria should adopt protectionist policies for indigenous ship owners to trake their rightful position in the scheme of things.
They averred that there is no nation in the world that has developed its maritime industry without protectionist policies, even as they pointed out that the primary role of any maritime administration is to develop local shipping capacity.
“The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) should work hard to grow indigenous tonnage while government through the relevant agencies should secure fiscal incentives for ship owners to acquire ships. Further delay in the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) should be stopped”, they added.
They called on the Federal Government, especially the Federal Ministry of Transport, NIMASA, the primary lending institutions (the selected commercial banks) to ensure the money is disbursed to the selected beneficiaries without further delay.
They also said there is an “urgent and immediate need” for government to establish strategic bailout fund for the maritime transport sector.
According to the participants, more shipping companies should be accorded national carrier status and be encouraged to meet the expectations of the status rather than playing politics with it. As a deliberate effort to grow the industry, greater attention must be given to ship building and repairs in the country.
The communiqué sought the enhancement of expertise and capacity through a supported local content initiative of contracts and awards to hasten development of the sector.
On human capacity development, they said there should be positive incentives to engage women in the industry. “Female cadets should be given equal opportunities for sea time training”, they added.
The communiqué also expressed the need to close the manpower gap created by the demise of the defunct national carrier, Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL).
“The NIMASA’s Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme(NSDP) should be structured to emphasise sea time training which has been a challenge for Nigerian cadets. Indeed, training of seafarers should go hand in hand with building shipping capacity to avoid training potential pirates. To achieve this, Nigerian shipping operators should be encouraged and assisted to acquire ships in order to offer the cadets training berths while the use of legislation to force the ships working in the oil and gas industry to take Nigerian cadets on board their ships for mandatory sea experience should be mandatory”, the communiqué added.
According to NIMAREX, NIMASA should collaborate closely with Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa Ibom State and the Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research, Lagos to build capacity by sponsoring cadets in these institutions to foreign training. In consideration of the proliferation of fake seafarers’ certificates in Nigeria and its attendant implications, NIMASA should live up to its mandate of regulating and standardizing seafarers’ certificates.
– This Day