By RICHARDS ADENIYI
THE decision by the Federal Government to spend the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) on the establishment of a national carrier instead of giving it out to indigenous shipping companies to acquire ships is generating furor among some stakeholders in the sector.
While speaking at a Maritime Technical Summit organized by the Association of Maritime Engineers and Surveyor in Lagos, the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi said the new National carrier would be floated by expending the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) but by a perfection of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) principles.
Reacting to this plans, former President, Indigenous Ship-owners Association of Nigeria, Chief Isaac Jolapamo, criticized the idea of setting up a national carrier as planned by the government. He threatened to drag the Federal Government to court if it goes with the decision.
The Transportation Minister, who apparently not pleased with the threat in turn, said he was not afraid of being dragged to court. Amaechi emphasised that as far as he was concerned no law stops public officer from doing his job, adding that what is important is that everything must be done in accordance with the law.
Maritime lawyer, Emeka Akabogu had also in a report last week advised the Minister against setting up a national carrier with CVFF, saying it is illegal to do so.
The AMES President, Engr. Charles Uwadia in his welcome address bemoaned the declining standard in quality and profitability of ships flying Nigerian flags. He traced this to poor technical standards caused by ship owners’ reluctance to comply with national and international standards and regulations.
Uwadia called for a holistic review of the Nigerian Maritime human capacity development, adding that the Government, the institutional platforms and the stakeholders must collaborate to move the maritime industry forward.
A Resource person, Engr. Emmanuel Ilori said it was time to refocus, stating that Nigeria by now, with established tonnage, should be on category ‘B’ under the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) rating, noting that Nigeria is yet to master its status on Category ‘C’. Ilori said, “We should be on the Category B of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council. Nigeria should be able to dominate the African Atlantic waters”.
He added that failure to develop human capacity means paying heavily on the nation’s capacity to compete in the maritime sector, adding that there was the need to go back to the drawing board.