Master mariners raise the alarm over high levies

14 August 2015, Abuja – Master mariners in the country have raised the alarm over the payment the 1.5 per cent local content and two per cent cabotage levies by indigenous operators.

ship-carrying-containers-at-the-Apapa-Port-Lagos-360x241The master mariners, who spoke under the auspices of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) decried what they called the “double levies” paid by indigenous operators in both the maritime and oil and gas industries.They stated that the high levies have started to impact negatively on local businesses in the country.

President of NAMM, Captain Ade Olopoenia said that the provisions of the both the cabotage and local content have failed to achieve the purpose of building indigenous capacity.

According to Olopoenia, both the Cabotage and Local Content Acts were also supposed to promote the development of indigenous commercial marine trade in the nation’s coastal waters.

“However, the collection of both levies has increased the cost of doing business in Nigeria. Some of these policies were supposed to be a stop gap to protect local investment.  With foreign dominance on coastal trade Nigerian businesses will continue to be short changed,” he said.

The NAMM president observed that Nigerian businessmen now add the two per cent and 1.5 per cent  of the value of their contract as against removing the percentage from the contract sum.

He traced the problem of indigenous operators to the way and manner, the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has been running its affairs to the detriment of indigenous operators.

Describing the multi-billion naira corporation as a major clog in the businesses of local operators, Olopoenia said NNPC has always support the mother vessels to deny local operators from loading their vessels.

“Whenever local vessels come alongside the mother vessels, the masters of these mother vessels will chase away indigenous vessels and they (local operators) go and complain to NNPC, they hardly do anything about it”,   he submitted.

The association, which comprises who are very knowledgeable about the maritime industry,  expressed its readiness to set up a task force to work with the relevant government agencies with a view to ensuring that government rescind either of these levies.

He explained that what the Cabotage Act is to the maritime industry is what the Local Content is to the Oil and Gas industry.

“This issue must be addressed. We will visit the Ministry of Transport as soon as a minister is appointed. Vessels of certain tonnage must not be allowed into the country as Nigerians have the capacity to handle coastal trade,” he added.

– This Day

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