Sambo Goes For Hanging Fruits, Gets Buhari’s Nod On Transport Policy, CVFF

Sambo Goes For Hanging Fruits, Gets Buhari’s Nod On Transport Policy, CVFF

  • Suffers sabotage       
  • NIMASA explains deep blue assets status for the North
  • Says no charges at secure anchorage area

Determined to deliver his promises of plucking the low-hanging fruits in the transport sector before his exit,the Minister of Transportation, Engr. Muazu Sambo has secured the approval to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund(CVFF) from President Mohammadu Buhari.

Also being expected is the approval for the application of the National Transport Policy(NTP). These were the two major items that formed bulk of the memo sent to Mr. President for approval, recently.

MMS Plus gathered that Sambo considered these items key to unlocking the development of the transport industry.

Confirming the approval on Saturday at the flag- off ceremony of the third phase of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Program (NSDP) held at the Naval dockyard in Lagos, Sambo said “President Muhammadu Buhari has approved my request for the disbursement of the CVFF Fund and finally, we are breaking the 17-year old jinx.”

He said he had made a case that the fund belongs to the Nigerian ship-owners and “The President who is a respecter of the law therefore approved the disbursement of the fund with immediate effect.

“We shall approach the Minister of Finance and Budget Planning, as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) for the immediate disbursement of the fund.

“Sambo assured that even though the CVFF which has hit over $350million is warehoused in the Treasury Single Account (TSA) of the Federal Government, it would be transferred to the approved Primary Lending Institutions(PLIs),” he said

Announcing that five primary lending institutions have been approved for the disbursement, Sambo said the fund shall be transferred from the TSA account when it hits $50million to the approved PLIs.

However, this sounds ambiguous to observers because the fund had since surpassed the $50million threshold of transfer. Stakeholders are quick to recall that former Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi had also secured an approval for disbursement of CVFF after which inter-ministerial politicking over the fund’s ownership set in to stop the approval.

Recall that after Sambo’s recent promise in Port Harcourt that he would ensure the disbursement of CVFF under his leadership, eleven banks were listed as the PLIs for the disbursement but the indigenous ship owners wanted to know the criteria for pre-qualification of beneficiaries and their identities, alleging that the process negates the stipulated procedures in the Cabotage Act and CVFF guidelines and therefore vulnerable to litigation.

Also,recall that Nigeria has for over three decades not had a functional transport policy. But many versions of draft national transport policy have been produced under successive administrations. Under the immediate past Transport Minister, Hon Rotimi Amaechi, Mrs. Mfon Usoro chaired a Committee that produced another draft.

A source in the Federal Ministry of Transportation called on stakeholders and agencies to pray and support the Minister whom he said is walking on a series of landmines of entrenched interests who are determined not to let go, adding that some senior officials of the Ministry and agencies have their loyalty somewhere else where they still take briefings and come with streams of actions that smack off sabotage in the system.

He added that the Minister however takes all the challenges in his stride with a focus to redirect the sector to play its role as the catalyst for the economic development of the country.

The source is disturbed that these elements have elected themselves for pettiness and as agents of destruction and sabotage , declaring that there is “No competition here! Sambo is not in competition with anyone. As an industry-groomed boy, he wants to refocus the sector with the little time available. He needs supports and prayers not sabotage”.

In another development, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) has stated that it has no plan to introduce charges at the Secure Anchorage Area(SAA) off the coast of Lagos, recovered by the Federal Government from the management of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited(OMSL), a private company, owned by the late Captain Hosa Idahosa and Dr. Tunde Ayeni.

A management team of NIMASA had erroneously said the agency might consider the introduction of levy on ships at the SAA to sustain the security architecture- Deep Blue Assets.

Recall that MMS Plus had reported same last week. But the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh in his clarification stated that there is no plan for that as they remain committed to not charging a penny so as not to increase the cost of doing business in the ports and maintain the objective of the Deep Blue Project.

Jamoh recalled that he had told members of the Shipping Association of Nigeria(SAN) that NIMASA would protect, interdict and deter threats around vessels anchored at the SAA at no fee.

He also said that there was no approval from the Federal Government to extend or move the deep blue assets to the North as stated in error explaining thus: “What happened was that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) was asked to come and investigate how the project is being executed, whether is in line with the procedures and plan as conceived following false allegations. They wrote their findings to Mr.President saying everything was working according to plan but added however that a similar project should be replicated in the North.

“It was a recommendation from the EFCC not approval from Federal Government. Consequently, they developed a proposal and sent to the government. For the records, when the Ministry wanted to commence the rail project, they wrote to NIMASA asking that an helicopter from the deep blue assets be given to them for three months pending when they get theirs for the project. The Steering Committee of the Deep Blue Assets wrote to them, saying nobody has the right to do so apart from Mr. President. That was how the Ministry went seeking a private security outfit that can assist them,” the DG explained.

The management team member also later called MMS Plus to say that he meant replication of the project as recommended by the EFCC.

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