20 February 2014, Lagos – Indigenous ship operators in Nigeria have rejected the fresh guidelines presented to maritime stakeholders by the Minister of Transport and demanded for a total removal of the waiver clause.
The local ship owners, under the aegis of Nigerian Ship owners Association, (NISA), lamented the ineffective nature of the Shipping and Coastal Act, (Cabotage), noting that the current administration does not have any plan to develop the maritime sector.
The ship owners who spoke through their Chairman, Chief Isaac Jolapamo, demanded that the waiver clause be expunged from the Cabotage Act, pointing out that the fresh guideline is not a priority.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, last week, presented the new policy guidelines to maritime stakeholders in Lagos.
He explained that it was meant to correct the numerous anomalies observed in the Cabotage Law, especially as regards the powers of the Minister in granting waivers.
Apart from the compulsory payment of the two percent Cabotage contract surcharge, the new guideline also stressed the mandatory employment, training and utilization of Nigerian Seafarers, as well as the maintenance and repair of vessel in Nigeria during the period covered by the waiver.
The Transport Minister had earlier appealed to stakeholders, saying that even though the powers granted to the honorable minister were clearly spelt out in the subsisting laws, certain inadequacies have been noticed which needed correction.
“We do realize that in the cause of implementing this Act, a number of inadequacies have been observed and recorded, therefore we felt that it was necessary to call the attention of stakeholders, to come and rub minds and look at a draft policy guideline that we have brought out, so that together we will have a better working document.
I have however considered it imperative to increase, substantially, the tariff payable particularly for the manning waivers as a means of discouraging ship owners engaging foreign crew to man Cabotage vessels while local seafarers are left to wallow in penury,” he said.
In his explanation on critical aspects of the new guidelines, the Executive Director of Cabotage Services of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Barr. Calistus Nwabueze Obi, pointed out that, contrary to what obtains before, any ship that needs a waiver must have applied for it sixty days ahead of the arrival of the vessel.
”The Cabotage services department shall within a period of 48hours of receipt of waiver application, cause a notice of Cabotage waiver application to be published in the agency’s website.
The said publication shall request for notifications of objections to be made within 7 days,” he said.
But in his reaction, NISA Chairman, Chief Jolapamo whose opinion was shared by majority of the stakeholders, pointed out that issuing a new guideline is not the priority.
– Godwin Oritse, Vanguard