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We wanted an African P&I Club, to support growth of shipping sector— Jolapamo

Chief Isaac Jolapamo

When the Indigenous Shipowners Association in
Nigeria pushed for a workable cabotage performance, they also wanted to see the conclusion of a shipping line, and an African Protection and Indemnity
(P&I) Club, through their efforts,  to support operators and other stakeholders
.

A Protection
and Indemnity or P&I club is a non-governmental, non-profitable mutual or
cooperative association of 
marine
insurance providers to its members, which consists
of ship owners, operators, charterers and seafarers under the member companies.

On that effort, renowned Nigerian
Shipowner and Founder of the Indigenous  Shipowners Association(ISAN),
Chief Isaac Jolapo, noted that : “the only Shipowners Association then, was in the process of concluding the establishment of an African P&I Club.



“It would have helped our shipping development in addition to the formation of ISAN  Shipping Line that was done at the instance of the government at that time.”

Though concerned that that dream for an Africa P&I Club wasn’t concluded, Jolapamo was confident that a P&I Club would have served the good of the
sector, to help shipowners access block finances with the best
portfolio management for such funds.

Speaking in an interview, Jolapamo
expressed worry that even the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) had taken
so long to be disbursed.

His greatest concern is that the
authorities in charge may end up not considering the requisite qualification of
operators for the disbursement.

He said: “The basic qualification to access
the fund should be a high standard technical and commercial management
experience of the company that is applying. That is what they adopt in other
climes.

“But we have never used that as a criteria
here. And unfortunately, we don’t even know what has happened to the money.

“When we started the indigenous ship owner
association, which brought about the cabotage, the intention was the government
would grow the industry in such a way that we will have a shipping line, and
have a P&I club.

“We even thought that they ploughed the
cabotage funds to acquiring ships for the operators and take part of that for
ship maintenance, for people to keep running what they have. But there were too
many interests. It was later we heard that some of the money was given to hair
dressers.”

Speaking on setting an agenda for growing
the maritime industry, Jolapamo wants the government to allow experienced
operators guide policy formulations that would actually drive operations in the
industry.

“The agenda should be to unlock the idle
potentials in the industry. We need to reorder our programme and policies in
the light of the present global realities.

“If they realise that the industry has the
capacity to provide the desperately looked for jobs for younger generation and
help to reduce poverty and improve the standard of living of the people, then
it would be on track, “Jolapamo said.

He recalled that as a staff of the Nigerian
National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over 40 years ago, his department ensured
that Nigerian operators in the industry were offered opportunities for jobs,
just so that they grew the shipping industry using indigenous businesses. 

He said: “I was a pioneer staff of the NNPC
and then we made concerted effort to bring in Nigerians for the jobs. We had
more than 70% of Nigerians providing NNPC vessels that time. But now, the
reverse is the case. It is very difficult to break into the walls they have
built.”

Jolapamo feels disappointed that such
efforts to grow the indigenous shipping business do not get government
attention again, as foreigners seem to have dominated the business of providing
vessels for the NNPC.

“You can say there are Nigerian vessels in
NNPC, but I as an individual and with my years of experience know where the
vessels are coming from. I know that they belong to the Pakistanis, the Indians
and some Greeks.

“It can only be corrected when you pick
Nigerians who have the experience of the jobs. You just do service to your
nation and not because you need to like their faces,” Jolapamo added.

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