Nigeria: Operators Seek Govt's Support to Build Viable Shipping Industry

9 April 2021

Ship owners in the country have solicited the support of relevant stakeholders and government agencies, particularly the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) amongst others, to build a viable shipping industry and create wealth for Nigerians.

The President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Dr. MkGeorge Onyung, stated this after he was elected president of SOAN for a second term of two years.

Specifically, Onyung pledged to steer SOAN to create wealth, both for members and the whole country.

While accepting the results of the peaceful poll, Onyung highlighted how some countries were prospering from global shipping.

He singled out Norway, a country with about 45,000 vessels ownership, despite having only four months of free or unfrozen waters annually.

Norway, he stressed, has prospered immensely from global shipping; and vowed that the SOAN under his watch would engage every relevant stakeholder, government agencies and international operators, to ensure Nigeria optimises its natural environment and endowments.

Also, the SOAN boss stressed the need for government to disburse the Cabotage Vessels Financing Fund (CVFF).

"It you like call it an 'Esusu' collected by government, from ship operators, solely for the development of indigenous Shipping, despite a consistent Esusu collection made in 18 years, the authorities had actually sat still on it. I want to say that the CVFF fund is our money; we have contributed it for over 18 years, and this money needs to be deployed.

"We have heard many stories about the CVFF, but I assure you this executive will bring you good news about the CVFF in the sense that we are going to engage the government about the CVFF; and we are going to use the CVFF to buy ships and deploy it in the maritime sector,"Onyung stated.

He added that the support of NNPC could not be overemphasized stressing that SOAN is ready to work with the agency to grow the Nigerian economy.

"We need to have the opportunities also because if the NNPC does not create the opportunity that awards a contract for us to utilize the CVFF fund, then there is no use giving the money to people who have no business to do with it, "the SOAN President stated.

He said ship owners have been buying ships before the CVFF, and would continue to do so, in so far as conditions, which include availability of contracts exists; because contracts propel acquisition of vessels.

He also assured that the body would subsequently, reinforce its collaboration with the National Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), in a bid to ensure Nigeria positively changes the business narrative or philosophy.

He assured the nation that the current SOAN executive would raise the bar and tenaciously work to see that beyond the disbursement of the CVFF, indigenous ship owners actually get the opportunity to carry crude.

"I will leave up to my responsibility and I will not let you down. As a matter of fact, we have work to do, a lot of work. I have a laundry list of activities; so we have to hit the ground running, because if you look at every aspect of the maritime industry, in the past they have been using plaster to cover a deepening wound; and that has not been helping situation at all.

"In 2019, we took the bull by the horns and held the first Lagos International Shipping Expo; that expo was an eye opener, because we told the story of an expo in the language of practitioners," "Onyung said.

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