NIMASA to support NISA in indigenous shipping promotion

DG NIMASA, Ziakede Akpobolokemi
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) has expressed willingness to work with the Nigeria Ship-owners Association(NISA) to actualise the provisions of the Cabotage Act  to help restore shipping services jobs to indigenous ship-owners.

Mr Ziakede Akpobolokemi, the Director-General of NIMASA made the pledge on Tuesday when the NISA Executive, led by its President, Capt. Dada Labinjo, paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Lagos.

The NIMASA boss assured that he had earlier on Tuesday inaugurated a committee to drive the cabotage regime to ensure that Nigerians in the shipping sub-sector got the jobs that rightfully belonged to them.

“It is important we move the shipping sector forward. I know it is difficult to do, but building indigenous capacity has to be given a priority, and we must work to secure cargo and contracts for Nigerians.

“In one of the major meetings we had with the OPTS (the umbrella body of the Oil and Gas companies in Nigeria) this morning, we discussed the enforcement of the cabotage regime.

“We told them that jobs that Nigerians ought to do that are taken over by foreigners are getting us very restive as we need to empower our people.

He said the effort to effect the desired change must be deliberate and constructive to enable Nigerians operating in the shipping sub-sector get jobs, considering some core things that must be done.

In that regard, Akpobolokemi said that the baton for continuity would be handed over when the present administration is able to achieve a pass mark in building indigenous freight and a national carrier.
“We will not stop until we get it right.  I know doing this may not be easy, but we have the desire, not minding that the greatest problem has always been with implementing the law,” he said.

Speaking earlier, Capt. Labinjo said the visit to the NIMASA Director General was to interact with the agency for mutually-beneficial relationship, especially in building indigenous capacity.

He said that the utmost desired result was for NISA members to get back the jobs that foreign shipping operators had taken from them.

“We want to take back our jobs which have been taken by foreign shipping companies.
“We are convinced that if the members are well engaged they will work together to achieve ‘zero illegality,” Labinjo said.

He however noted that members of NISA have been enjoined to acquire modern vessels so as to get jobs in the oil and gas service provision.

He pointed out that Ghana had advanced with implementing its Local Content Act as it does not register companies without its citizen being at the helm of affairs, including being the main signatory to a company’s business account.

He said just like Ghana, Brazil had also enforced the engagement of indigenous shipping service providers in addition to its cabotage regime, and that the provision was signed on Nov. 5.

According to Labinjo, NISA was also looking at the option of encouraging investments in shipyards considering the projected shipping requirements for the cargo carriage in the oil and gas.

He used the occasion to request from the NIMASA boss that NISA be considered a vital role; advisory and service provision, when it comes to application waivers.

“The treatment of the application for waiver comes to NIMASA and takes us completely out of it. Let any service user make his application, but please forward it to us and within 72 hours we will be back with you to let you know if any one of us can provide such a ship,” he said.

He disclosed that the Nigeria Maritime Expo(NIMAREX)committee would be inaugurated on Wednesday to enable them begin planning and preparations for the 2015 event.

In attendance with Capt. Labinjo from NISA  were the Second Vice President, Aminu; the General Secretary, Tunji Brown; Treasurer, Peter Olorunfemi; Financial Secretary, Dele Lamisa; Otunba Shola Onaoji; Mr. Peter Ashinwo and Associate Member, Akin Olaniyan.