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Group urged President Buhari to stop the bleeding in the Maritime Sector

The Nigerian Maritime Club(NIMAC) Has urged the new administration of President Buhari to weigh in and stop the needless losses been experienced in the maritime sector..

The group co-coordinator Mr David Michael Jr has said despite the introduction of the Cabotage Law,The country  is losing over  N1.8 trillion yearly to foreign shipowners in cargo haulage alone,which we know
.
Under the law, coastal trade is reserved for only  indigenous shipowners; their foreign counterparts are allowed to participate in the business subject to a waiver by the Federal Government.

To the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), the law is not serving its purpose because the group's members cannot handle cargoes that pass through the nation's waterways.
The group is making plan on how to engage the in-coming Muhammadu Buhari administration on involving its members in crude oil lifting.

Sources close to the group said a vessel involved in offshore operations collects at least $5,000 daily. This, according to a source, is the least amount collected by foreign vessels on the nation's waters.
The country, he said, is losing $10 billion yearly to foreigners because of the government's alleged failure to engage indigenous ship chandlers; and also losing N45 billion yearly due to the preference given to foreign ship owners and their choice of insurers over the indigenous companies in the lifting and importation of fuel.

The Federal Government, a source said, loses over N3.5 billion monthly in freight insurance, urging the in-coming administration to arrest the situation.
The Federal Government's loss at over N1.8 trillion yearly, wondering why the loopholes were not plugged by the out-going administration.

"The sorry situation we find our country as a maritime nation is ridiculous and in absolute contravention of the Local Content Act.
"For instance, Nigerian ship chandlers are supposed to be given 95 per cent of business opportunities in the ship chandelling industry and other opportunities to render services in the ships. The in-coming administration needs to ensure that the local content Act is wholly implemented in order to create jobs for Nigerians in the maritime, oil and gas sectors effectively.
"The participation of multinational companies in ship chadling has rendered many Nigerians jobless and the Buhari led government must correct these anomalies.

It was our expected hope that when the Cabotage regime came on stream, the intention was mainly to stimulate the development of indigenous capacity in the Nigerian maritime industry.But many years after, the situation remains the same despite the despite the efforts by NIMASA.
"In the oil and gas industry, Nigeria has close to 500 oil wells. For each well, there is a rig, which is supported by a minimum of five ships, and they are called oil support vessels. Each of the foreign ships earn $5,000, while others earn $150,000 per day.

"The Cabotage Act which  seeks to reserve domestic coastal trade or Cabotage trade within Nigerian coastal and inland waters to vessels built and registered in the country, wholly owned and manned by Nigerian citizens. Foreign-owned vessels and companies are, however, allowed to participate in Cabotage trade within Nigerian waters, subject to obtaining a waiver and or license from the Federal Ministry of Transport.

"Almost 10 years, not much has changed, as the indigenous vessel owners, who the law was designed to protect remained sidelined and impoverished while foreign shipping companies dominate the trade and the Federal Government not looking responsive.

 What is the budget? It is N4 trillion or something above that. If the ship owners contribute N1.5 trillion or more into it, the multiplier effect of it would be seen in our economy and the job it would create.

"With the poor state of our economy, I think it would be suicidal for us to continue to engage foreigners to lift our crude. The government must ensure that every dollar we pay for the carriage of our oil comes  into the economy.

"I am very sure that by the time we put the naughty issue before the government it would be ready to engage indigenous ship owners.
"We are businessmen and we won't ask government for money but tell them how to open up the industry," he said.
The group  also bemoaned several millions of dollars the country is losing to foreign ship owners and urged the government to end the problem with good policy formulation.

SOAN's President, Mr Greg Ogbeifun, promised that the group would promote the interest of Nigerian-owned vessels and also provide a forum for dialogue among indigenous ship owners.
"SOAN comprise ship owning companies with proven track records of activities in the industry recognised by upstream and downstream sectors of the shipping industry as well as by the private and public sectors of the industry.

Ogbeifun, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Starz Group, said SOAN was set up to facilitate participation of Nigerian shipowners in international fora on shipping matters through effective representation
"To cultivate and maintain good relations with the government and maritime authorities by contributing expertise in formulating policies and regulations on national and maritime activities.

"We won't set agenda for the new government but will only set a road map for them. We are just a maritime  pressure group we believe in the development of new nigeria..

DM.Hills Jr

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