The federal government has said there are plans to ban foreign vessels from operating on Nigerian waters in the nearest future.
Speaking through the Director-General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside during an interview on Channels Television's Business Morning, the federal government said the agency is working towards a time when foreign-owned vessels will not be allowed to trade on Nigerian waters.
"We have rolled out a five-year Cabotage waiver cessation plan. That means that in the next five years, there are a number of waivers we would no longer grant," he said on Thursday.
The NIMASA boss said there is an urgent need to train Nigerians on how to properly utilise the opportunities in the maritime sector.
According to him, vessels operating in trading activities should be owned by the citizens rather than foreigners.
"We expect that most vessels that would be trading within our waters will be built in Nigeria, we already have shipbuilding yards. Most vessels will be flagged Nigeria and most vessels must be owned by Nigerians, we are not going to allow foreign-owned vessels at some point," he stated.
On the need to have a national fleet that would be private sector-driven, Peterside explained that President Muhammadu Buhari's administration is working to ensure that this is achieved soon.
He noted that once private individuals and corporate bodies operate the nation's fleet, there will be employment opportunities that will boost economic activities.
He added, "The direction of the world is that the private sector people are in a better position to run businesses. As a country, as a reason for national pride, creating employment, reasons for security consideration and other economic reasons, we pushed for the creation of a national fleet.
"The honourable minister's dream, which has the president's endorsement, is that let it be private-sector driven, the country might just have minimal equity in the national fleet. We have that plan and we have set up a team led by the executive secretary of the Shippers Council. We believe that when it comes to fruition, we will have a shipping line that will fly the national flag."