By ODIMMEGWA JOHNPETER, Abuja
MINISTER of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has assured stakeholders in the maritime sub-sector of the federal government’s determination to revive the National Shipping Line.
The Minister gave the assurance while receiving the report of the Committee on Modalities for the Establishment of National Carrier in the maritime industry from its Chairman, Engr. Olu Akinsoji, in his office in Abuja.
Amaechi stated that an Implementation Committee to be headed by the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council would be constituted immediately, saying that government attaches premium importance to the revival of the once vibrant National Shipping Line.
He added that the international regulator had given Nigeria up to August this year to put all the necessary frameworks in motion for viable international maritime activities that would attract foreign investors into the Country.
“Investors have given us August as deadline on the issue and we have said that government is going to use part of the cabotage fund in this direction. We must also be advised on how to choose who qualifies to benefit from the fund because 60 percent that we have must be accessed from the Cabotage as part of their equity contribution”, he said.
He commended the committee’s members for a job well done urging them not to allow private vested interest in the utilization of the Cabotage fund jeopardize government’s good intention in the allocation of the fund to the ship owners at the detriment of national interest.
Presenting the report to the minister, Engr. Olu Akinsoji said that his Committee had identified several benefits from the initiatives to revive the National shipping Carrier noting that some of these identified benefits are the essential factors that have shaped the Maritime industry of other great nation of the world.
He further explained that the report provided three categories of Maritime transportation areas on which Nigeria can establish a Shipping Company: Wet Cargo which is made of Crude, finished Products-Petroleum, High and Low Pour Premium Fuel Oils; while the Dry Cargo made up of General goods, Container, Ro-Ro, Barge Carrier etc as well as the Coastal, off-Shore Support Services and Facilities, such as Cable Laying, Workboats, Tugs, House Boat, Jack-up etc.
Engr. Akinsola who expressed optimism about government’s readiness to implement the Committee’s report said that the roadmap to the successful establishment of a Nigerian fleet and repositioning the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) form the hallmark of the socio-economic development of Nigeria