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Cabotage act has no provision for local shipbuilding–expert

Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, President of SOAN

An expert in the maritime industry, Mr Greg Ogbeifun, on Tuesday
faulted the Nigerian Cabotage Act for not providing ground to encourage
ship-building locally.

Ogbeifun, also the President of the Ship Owners Association of
Nigeria (SOAN), made this known in a forum organised by students at the Faculty
of Law, University of Lagos.
Ogbeifun also linked non-functional steel industry and non
accessibility of funds as major problems associated with ship-building locally.
The SOAN’s president, who spoke on “Ship Owning in Nigeria
and Corporate Governance in Shipping”, said of the 600 ships operating on
Nigerian waters, only 10 per cent were owned by Nigerians.
Ogeifun, however, noted that the non-functional state of the steel
industry in Nigeria was a major problem in possibility of ship building
According to him, steel industries are either producing far below
set capacity or non-functional, which compelled the country to depend heavily
on imported steel plates, pipes and sections for its needs.
He also identified high electricity demand in a ship building
industry, as another major problem which Nigeria was yet address thoroughly.
On accessing funds, the maritime expert noted that Nigerian banks
were not structured for such long-term investments.
Ogbeifun, a marine engineer, noted that the cabotage act only
created room for waivers without considering a strategic plan and other
logistics for ship building locally.
“It is sad that the Niger Dock has been privatised, and
statistics has shown that at the moment Nigeria has only one ship building
yard, located in Onne, Rivers State.
“The big shipyards and dockyards are in fact maintenance
facilities for docking and general ship repairs,” he said.
He, however, described the manpower development programme by the
Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) as a welcome
Ogeifun said that the programme would be able to solve the
manpower needs of the industry since “development of manpower to run a
shipping industry is key to the sector.”
Also speaking, Rev. Jonathan Nicol, the President of the Shippers
Association of Lagos State, said cargo remained the key element at the centre
of the shipping business.
Nicol declared that without cargo, shipping companies could not
operate, so, whenever the issue of shipping development was being discussed,
the cargo must be given its key play.
Maritime lawyer Jean Chiazor- Anishere, commended the efforts of
the students for organising the forum, saying the programme would help them
have better understanding of what obtains in the real world.
“What the youth have done today is commendable; it is like
setting the pace.
“But with the students showing their flair that they want to
know more about the industry, shows that there is a dearth of knowledge in the
“They went out of their way to put this together, inviting
the people in the industry for them to be enlightened and further informed
about the industry to which the students would want to learn more,” she
Chiazor- Anishere commended the department for giving a word that
efforts would be made to bring back the maritime faculty because the students
want to know more about the shipping sector.
Anishere said it was exciting to know that the young ones have
shown deep interest to know more about the industry.

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