Mkpoikana Udoma 12 November 2015, Sweetcrude,Port Harcourt – The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has been urged to properly enforce the Cabotage Act in order to optimise the benefits accruable to Nigeria’s maritime sector.
A university don and an expert in the maritime industry, Professor Kelvin D. Bob-Manuel, made the call as part of recommendations in his inaugural lecture as the first professor of marine engineering in West Africa and South of the Sahara.
Delivering the lecture at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, RSUST, in Port Harcourt, the professor of maritime engineering (Ship power plant) said enforcement of the Cabotage Act would be of advantage to indigenous maritime operators.
The Cabotage Act, Professor Bob-Manuel said, spelt out four major condition upon which it’s implementation must be applied.
He listed these to include that cabotage vessels must be wholly-owned by Nigerians; be registered in Nigeria, manned by Nigerian crews; and that Nigerian shipyards must build and repair cabotage vessels.
In his words, “NIMASA should properly enforce the Cabotage Act and drastically limit the wavers that are given to foreign vessels to operate in our territorial waters.
“This will enable our indigenous ship-owners and operators reap the benefit of Cabotage and increase replacement of cadets and other graduates on board Nigeria registered vessels to gain sea experience. This measure will minimise the skills gap in the maritime industry”.
The lecturer, who spoke on the topic, “Technological Advances in Maritime Transportation and Engineering Impact on the Global and Nigerian Economy”, recommended that the current monitoring policy on acquisition should be reviewed to favour indigenous operators.
Beyond this, he also recommended that Nigeria needed to invest in boat building and ship repair dockyards, as well as “vigorously enforce the Nigeria content policy in ship and boat building as well as repairs in the country”.
In addition, he called for increased collaboration between maritime training institutions and the industry in research, saying this should be intensified to enable the country meet challenges of current and future technology.
He explained that mitigation for maritime safely, prevention and control of environmental pollution in Nigeria’s territorial waters should include frequent safety orientation to boat operators.
According to him, “monitoring and strict enforcement of material and domesticated International Maritime Organization by the appropriate government body should also be included.