The President of Nigerian Ship-owners Association (NISA), Alhaji Aminu Umar has called on the federal government to work towards making freight earnings an alternative force to cover for the declining crude oil revenue.
Aminu stated this while addressing the press in Lagos yesterday. He revealed that 70- 77 vessels loaded crude oil daily in the nation, yet Nigerians were not involved in any part of the business. He lamented that this had led to massive loss of income, employment opportunities and revenue to the government.
“If you look at the oil and gas sector, there is approximately 70-77 crude oil vessels loading every month. None of these vessels are owned by Nigerians and the freight for a vovage is a minimum of $4million and about $280 million when you multiply by 70. These people don’t employ Nigerians, they don’t pay tax and they pay insurance in their countries”, Aminu queried.
He admonished the federal government to empower Nigerians so they could get the VAT, insurance and revenue to the Nigerian government and also create massive employment opportunities for Nigerians. However, he stressed that ship-owners are worried about the high level of piracy as several vessels have been attacked in recent times in the Gulf of Guinea.
According to Aminu, foreign ships now avoid Nigerian waters and the Extra War Risk Insurance (EWRI) premiums that these foreign companies charge is set to rise higher. He said that NISA had received notification from international insurance companies that the “extra war risk insurance” has increased as a result of the high level of sea pirates in the nation. He also disclosed that seafarers are no longer interested in coming to Nigeria.
In order to curb this menace, NISA’s president called on the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Nigerian Navy and other security agencies to ensure the safety of Nigerian waters. However, he lamented NIMASA’s continuous collection of Sea Protection Levy from ship-owners since the waterways were bereft of safety.
Meanwhile the Secretary- General of NISA, Mr. Tunji Brown told journalists that ship-owners were in full support of the new Director General at NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside.
He said that the Ship-owners Forum would come up with a unified position of ship-owners that will help Dr. Dakuku develop the nation’s maritime sector especially in creating jobs for Nigerian youths and generating the requisite revenue to keep the economy of the polity in good shape.
By Kenneth Jukpor