Akinsoji charges NIMASA on shipyards registration, categorisation toward proper implementation of cabotage


 
Engr. Olu Akinsoji
A former Sole Administrator of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron, Engr. Olu Akinsoji, has advised the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on the need to begin the registration and categorization of shipyards, as a crucial step toward the proper implementation of the provisions of the Cabotage Act.

The Cabotage Act came into existence in 2003 with provisions to enable indigenous participation in the cabotage trade.

The act provides that (a) cabotage vessels should be built in Nigeria, (b) owned by Nigerians (c) Manned by Nigerians, and (d) registered in Nigeria. It, however, also provided that waivers be granted in situations where any of the conditions were not met.

Akinsoji gave the advice while reacting to a recent notice by the Federal Government on stated deadlines for the ban on importation of some categories of cabotage vessels.   

He said: “The Maritime Administration should register shipyards and categorize them by inspecting the facility of each shipyard to ascertain what they can build. It is only what they can build that should be the start of effectiveness, and gradually they will develop themselves to building bigger vessels.

“We have capacity to build these small boats.  Like the pilot cutter, it is a small vessel, the one that brings in ships, houseboats, propel barges. With these, they can now go to the industry and establish who needs what vessels.

“If for instance, a shipyard can build pilot cutter in its shipyard and the industry needs like 30 in a year, they will now ask the categories of shipyards that can build it to bring in tenders.

“Such shipyards would be asked to build the vessels within a year and make supply.  So, when the contract is sealed there will be no importation of such vessels. If the contract is frustrated along the line, the date of banning can be shifted, so that the nation’s economy is not stopped.”

For manpower needs, the maritime expert wants NIMASA to check to also establish how many people are required, how many people are already in place and what the shortfall is, in order to grow the required needs for the industry.

“If we want to prevent foreigners from filling any position in that area, how long it would take to train the number of people to fill the gap there should be established.

“Then, the academy can be engaged to train them to the level of satisfaction. And after that period, no foreigner can come to take the position.  The authority should give more technical effect to the provision of the law, which is more important than even collecting the cabotage fund.”  

Akinsoji said that the Maritime Administration should consider an orientation of developing the industry to give it the boost that will effectively allow the country register a vessel, to effectively build vessels and train Nigerians to man vessels safely.

“The position of the law and the spirit behind the law, is for Nigeria to be able to build those vessels and to be able to train her people to man those vessels.
Registration of vessels in Nigeria means that all the requirements for registration of vessels including its safety and maintenance of its safety should be established appropriately,” Akinsoji said.