By Richar Adeniyi
Newly elected President, Shipowners’ Association of Nigeria (SOAN) Dr. McGeorge Onyung has promised to ensure the disbursement of the over $100 million that has accrued into the Cabotage Vessels Finance Fund (CVFF) for the development of indigenous shipowners.
Speaking shortly after the election, which held in Lagos recently, Onyung said the association would engage the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Federal Ministry of Transportation over the disbursement of the fund.
According to him, the intervention fund was created for the benefits of shipowners and it must be disbursed for their use.
“The CVFF is created for the benefit of indigenous shipowners and the fact that it had not been disbursed means something needs to be fine-tuned. So I will come back with my team to look at what are the possibilities and what is the real nagging problem so that we can address it for a win-win situation.
“It is not my job to ensure CVFF is disbursed but I believe the government is working on the disbursement but we will create a team that will address all issues that affect our members and the CVFF is one of them. We will look at the best way to ensure that it is disbursed to our members,” he said.
Onyung, who noted that the task ahead of the new executive is enormous, promised to build an association that would engage stakeholders in the sector constructively.
He said the association is also in support of the NIMASA’s five years waiver cessation plan for the actualisation of the Cabotage act.
“The task for the future is very enormous, I want to see a very smoother relationship with our stakeholders and regulators, the shipping industry to be moved to the next level and creating a formidable team that will engage stakeholders. l will work with them and engage them positively.
“On Cabotage, I believed going forward, it will be made to work. it is a good thing but we have to sit and go back to the drawing board and see which area we can fine tune the rough edges and see areas that can be smoothen for the benefits of the maritime industry,” he stated.
Immediate past president of SOAN, Engr. Greg Ogeifun expressed regret over the non-disbursement of the CVFF by the government.
He said the non-disbursement has affected activities of shipowners to compete favourably in the sector.
“I think Nigeria maritime sector has grown tremendously and the Nigerian content act is working with NIMASA to give opportunities to Nigerians who want to be ship owners but the challenge still remains that the funds that is statutorily designed to help the acquisition of ships by Nigerians is still being locked up by NIMASA and the ministry of transport.
“That fund has to be released to allow Nigerians acquire ships and be able to take their rightful position, otherwise the opportunities for foreigners will continue to be there,” he said.