The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency has promised to disburse $100m (N30.7bn Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund.
The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, made the promise during a forum organised by the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.
He said the fund came into being with the promulgation of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003, adding that the fund was part of the two per cent deductions from every contract awarded in the industry.
The fund is meant for capacity building of indigenous ship owners.
Peterside said, “We are looking at the regulations again. You will recall that there was a ship acquisition and ship building fund, which is a precursor to the Cabotage fund.’’
He also said that a national carrier was being developed with a view to boosting freight haulage and creating job opportunities.
Nigeria had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Pacific International Lines, a Singaporean company, to own 40 per cent of the stake while private Nigerian investors were expected to own the other 60 per cent.
According to the NIMASA DG, ‘national carrier’ is a status conferred on a shipping line by a country, adding, “In our case, the law says on the recommendation of NIMASA to the minister of transport, you can be designated a national carrier and what distinguishes a national carrier from others is the incentives you enjoy when so designated.
“What we are developing is a Nigerian flag national fleet and in this particular instance, the model that we are working on is for private investors to bring their funds. The Federal Ministry of Transportation is a facilitator of the project.”
Meanwhile, the NIMASA DG has said the agency will revisit the procedure of wreck removal from the country’s waterways.
He made the declaration in a statement made available to our correspondent on Tuesday.
Peterside said the review of the wreck removal process became inevitable in order to enhance its efficiency.
“NIMASA is working under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Transportation to review the wreck removal process in order to make Nigeria navigable waters safer for navigation by all. Once we get the consent of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, we will put out marine notice to that effect,” he said.
The NIMASA DG was also quoted as saying that the Nairobi Convention provided for the process whereby a ship could be declared a wreck, adding that the agency had been following the law diligently, and that the implementation of the reviewed process would serve as a catalyst to boost wreck removal from Nigerian waterways.