07 July 2015, Lagos – Managing Director of Union Admiralty Ltd, UAL, Ibi Seddon, has blamed the dominance of lifting of refined petroleum products from mother ships offshore to the storage facilities to the fact that the Nigerian owned ships are not sea-worthy.
Seddon explained that despite the Cabotage Act which restricts trade within the nation’s coastal waters for Nigerian owned vessels, product owners and owners of mother vessels still prefers foreign ships because the indigenous owned ships are not in class.
He explained that when a ship is in class (it meets all conditions both in terms of maintenance and insurance for engaging in international trade), the mother vessels would prefer to deal with them in case an accident occurs,
“There are very few Nigerian vessels that are up to date in their class, in their insurance and in their paper work that are involved in the transfer of refined products from offshore to storage facilities onshore.
“Some are having some difficulties because of their insurance, their class or their paper work because the mother vessels most cases may have one or two problem as a result of the roughness of the sea, scratches and the certification of documentation, they would not wait or hold each other hostage but they will depart and the P&I club would be able to settle the issue.
“So they insist on classed vessels, that means that the master and the crew are up to class and they know what they are doing so as to minimize dispute between two vessels. In case of incident like the above, both parties would sign their papers and they would disperse, instead of situation where one vessel would hold the other one insisting that he has to stay for one month or you must pay for the damages, all because you are not sure of him.
“But I think that most Nigerian owned vessels are updating themselves. The other problem that we are seeing in the world now is that most classed tanker vessels are having double hull and that has not actually taken effect in our coastal trade yet but with time, it will get here. It may be another hindrance that the mother vessels may insist on,” he said.
On the argument that most of the classification bodies make it difficult for Nigerian vessels to be classed, Seddon said it is not true because there are about five classification societies and that all on them cannot conspire not to classify ships from Nigeria.
He pointed out that there is a required standard to be met before any vessel can be given that class. In some class, you are required to embark on the maintenance of your ship every two years, the vessel has to go for dry dock which Nigerian vessels do not do.
*Godwin Oritse – Vanguard