By Kenneth Jukpor
Nigeria’s President, Mohammadu Buhari has given approval for the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF), according to the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi.
Amaechi revealed this yesterday while speaking at the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) 2019 Stakeholders’ Appreciation Night.
“We have approval from the President to disburse the Cabotage funds. We have approval from the President. We don’t want to disburse without discussing with stakeholders. We want to here what you want and how to go about that disbursement. We want to be sure of the outcome of that disbursement” he said.
The Transport Minister said that the Ministry would meet with heads of NSC, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to look at the entire maritime industry and know the industry needs.
However, he assured that if the findings from the meeting with heads of maritime agencies doesn’t align with what the practitioners want, he would willingly go with the position of the practitioners.
While the maiden meeting with Chief Executives of maritime agencies would hold next week, the Minister assured that the expanded meeting with other stakehokders would follow swiftly as the disbursement of the fund would commence in 2020.
Although this information should come as soothing relieve to ship owners and the entire maritime industry, industry operators assert that they would not be swayed by another promise from the government.
While commending the Federal Government on this development, the President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) Dr. Mkgeorge Onyung described the development as one which elicited ‘mixed feelings’.
Dr. Onyung stressed that ship owners and the entire shipping industry had anticipated the disbursement of the fund for so long.
“We are relieved that the Minister said next year CVFF would be disbursed. However, we aren’t relieved because he said next year but because of the approval in writing. We have waited for twelve years for this and we can’t say that we are tired”
“He already has guidelines as to how to go about the disbursement. Now he intends to meet with the government agencies and also meet with us, we can’t be too sure of the guidelines until that meeting” Onyung added.
Earlier, the Chairman of the occasion and Executive Chairman, Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL), Chief Oladipupo Jadesimi urged Nigeria to model its seafaring programme after the Philippines who have over 10,000 seafarers onboard ships across the globe.
Jadesimi said; “We can equally maximize the inland waterways to efficiently move products and people. Roads are difficult and expensive to build and maintain, hence the need to utilize other mode.”
He commended Shippers’ Council for its strides in ensuring fair services for all operators and service providers as the port regulator, even as he asserted that NSC’s role was more than a trade facilitator.
The event also witnessed the presentation of keys to beneficiaries of NSC Staff Housing Scheme by the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside.