Expert suggests ship owners’ cooperative group to access cabotage fund

A maritime expert, Retired Rear Adm. Godwill Ombo, has suggested that ship owners should form cooperative groups for easy access to the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).

Ombo said in an interview in Lagos that the cooperative group would serve as a formidable front for indigenous ship owners to benefit from the CVFF and grow.

He said this would enable the indigenous ship owners to effectively participate in the Cabotage trade, adding that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had a role to play in this.

``If ship owners do not have the wherewithal, they should form cooperative group to assess the funds to be able to get vessels to come into the country to participate in the Cabotage trade as indigenous ship owners in this country.

``The government, the minister of transport, NIMASA, must do everything quickly to make the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund, that is supposed to be administered by NIMASA, operative and accessible by indigenous ship owners.

``We must encourage people to go into indigenous shipping if we want to get the maritime industry to grow faster.

``NNPC has a very critical role to play because it is worthless bringing in vessels and not being able to carry goods.

``We must work out an arrangement that is good enough for this country and for our indigenous ship owners to grow,’’ Ombo said.

Ombo, who is the Vice-Secretary, Society of Nigerian Mariners (SNM), said Nigerians should benefit from the fact that ``cabotage everywhere in the world is a strategy to encourage growth of indigenous shipping locally’’.

He urged banks to key into ship financing as a worthy economic investment which could make them stronger with time.