The claim that funding is the major challenge of shipping business in Nigeria has been dismissed by the Assistant Secretary General Nigerian Ship owners Association (NISA) and the Managing Director Prometheus Maritime Limited Mr. Saint Peter Ashinwo during a media chat with MMS Plus.
Saint Peter stated that the real challenge of shipping is the none or partial implementation of the Cabotage Act which restricts access and reserves maritime trade within the geographical space of a country to indigenous capacities to encourage indigenous vessel acquisition, ensure the participation of Nigerians in the maritime industry, control foreign domination and develop the indigenous shipping industry.
He expressed dismay at the fate of ship owners without sea going vessels which he said is more than 60 percent of the indigenous ship owners in the industry.
He said that “the full implementation of Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act, 2003 and its enforcement by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), cannot be overemphasized because most companies have vessels that are not working, being a ship owner is not the same as being a car owner, you can decide to park your car if it is giving you problems and fix it whenever you have the cash but as a ship owner regulation states that if your vessel is not powered it must not lie offshore and there must be minimum manning capacity on the vessel at all times, it takes a huge amount of money to keep your vessel floating depending on the size, you are incurring millions from the Captain to the least member of crew, from lubrication to bunker to series of maintenance and documentation, now if there is no contract how do you meet up with the required maintenance? ”.
He further stated that “if because a ship is not powered say due to bad engines, you have to take to berth at a jetty where you pay the owner nothing less than five thousand a dollars a day times the number of days the vessel will be there”.
Saint Peter reasoned that “in this case if you are calling for funds from the banks what are the banks financing, mind you the banks are investing to make profit, and this is not vessel acquisition where it is important for them to know that your company has the credibility in terms of contracts and the expertise to manage the ship, no, we are talking about everyday expenses which can only be generated through contracts which has been taken over by foreign vessel owners”. He added.
He lamented that “there are no jobs anywhere for indigenous ship owners, contractors prefer to give their jobs to foreign companies, take LNG for instance, they have different particular spec of vessel they choose for difference jobs and they don’t have the patience to give you the contract and wait for you to acquire the vessel, they don’t have that time and as i speak to you we still have foreign vessels undertaking the jobs that Nigerian ship owners should do with 26 crew members all foreign, which is like 100%”
He added that it is wrong for ship owners in Nigeria to struggle to survive and the only solution is for the Cabotage law to be implemented to the letter even if no other new policies are enacted.