Shipowners association decries foreign operators’ dominance of Nigeria’s coastal trade

The Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA) on Tuesday lamented the continued dominance of the coastal trade in spite of the provisions of the Cabotage Act.

Speaking at a News briefing in Lagos, the NISA President, Capt. Dada Labinjo,  said that the indigenous shipowners had been rendered jobless, while foreign operators smile to the banks since the trade was left unprotected.

Labinjo blamed the regulatory bodies for failing in their responsibilities and encouraging corrupt practices to the detriment of the businesses of the indigenous shipowners.

He said, “Our maritime domain is infested by foreign ships despite the prohibitions in the Cabotage Act.

“Worst still, the foreign vessels fail to obtain waivers as required under Section 9-11 of the Cabotage Act. It is a common sight to find Filipinos, Indians, Koreans, Pakistanis onboard product tankers and offshore support vessels engaged in the Nigerian Cabotage trade.

“While the Americans, Indians, Europeans and Australians protect their Cabotage area, which I fondly call ‘nurseries’, we in Nigeria have left the ‘gate’ to the pen opened and the hawks and hounds have gone in to wreak havoc.

“NIMASA, NPA, Navy, NNPC etc watch helplessly, albeit provide tacit support in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars.”

The NISA President declared that it would be meaningless to own one million ships without the opportunity to be engaged for cargo operations.

“If we have one million ships, but no cargo to carry, we will reject them because ships are bought in anticipation of getting jobs.

“Crew salaries cannot continue six months after a ship is acquired and no job is being done, “Labinjo said.
He disclosed that about 500,000 Nigerians could be employed, while about N5.4 billion could also be earned from Nigeria’s monthly importation of 1.8 billion litres of petroleum products.

According to the NISA President, this would only happen if the transportation of the products was exclusively done by indigenous shipowners. 

He also disclosed that an additional 700,000 jobs could be created and an annual $15billion saved from capital flight if the International Oil Companies (IOCs) engage indigenous shipowners in lighterage operations.

He said the possibility was being looked at following the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) notice to all foreign owned, registered and crewed vessels not to renew their contracts on expiration.
“According to the NCDMB, the Marine Vessels Requirement by IOCs for the period 2015-2020 is 900 vessels. The NCDMB has served notice to all foreign owned, crewed and registered vessels that their contracts will not be renewed on expiration.

“The IOCs are obliged to engage Nigerian vessels in line with the provisions of the CabotageAct  and the NCD Act.

“We are therefore gearing towards providing the required offshore support vessels. When this is fully operational, another 700,000 direct and indirect jobs shall be created with an annual spend of $15 billion saved from capital flight,” the NISA President said.