Critical Stakeholders Brainstorm Towards Boosting Cabotage In South- South

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  • Nigeria To Auction $553 million In Bonds Next Week

Ship Owners,  Manning agents and other critical stakeholders on Tuesday began a new initiative in Port Harcourt, aimed at increasing the participation of Nigerian shipping companies in the trade for wealth creation, employment generation and national security.

Specifically,  the group which met at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Port Harcourt with the Chief organizer and Chairman, Hadax Marine and Logistics Ltd, Chief Adoage T. Norteh, telling newsmen that the body had finally decided to let the global community know that there is much more to Port Harcourt in terms of genuine business, than the negative media reports, such as kidnapping or piracy.

HRH King Alfred Diette-Spiff in a tete-a-tete with the SOAN Arrowhead,  Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, during the 1st Port Harcourt Cabotage Roundtable 2016, at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Port Harcourt... yesterday.
HRH King Alfred Diette-Spiff in a tete-a-tete with the SOAN Arrowhead, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, during the 1st Port Harcourt Cabotage Roundtable 2016, at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Port Harcourt… yesterday.

“The world must know that there is much more in this (Port Harcourt) area,  than the negative stories of kidnapping or piracy,  some people have written “,  he said, even as the President,  Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN),  Engr. Greg Ogbeifun revealed that as stakeholders, the SOAN in synergy, would fully collaborate with the authorities, totally avoiding confrontation, since facts on ground show the country is now seemingly blessed with “listening leaders”.

Delivering a keynote address at the 1st Port Harcourt Cabotage Round tale 2016, with the theme: the Shipowners and the strategies to meet the Challenges of Cabotage Trade in Nigeria,  Ogbeifun also lauded the enactment of the Cabotage Act of 2003, even as regretted that the anticipated benefits had remained a mirage.

“The Cabotage Act is the foremost comprehensive Nigerian legislation with regards to indigenous participation in the carriage of goods by sea and other incidental matters related thereto in the Nigerian Maritime Domain”,  he indicated, describing the law as an interventionist Government policy meant to redress “the lack of indigenous presence in the Nigerian shipping trade”.

“Sadly, more than 12 years after the ratification of this Act, the Indigenous Shipping Industry has still not grown to dominate Coastal and Inland Shipping and its operators though competing effectively with foreign shipowners, are not given the requisite support and encouragement.

“Rather what obtains is the continued domination of foreigners in Cabotage Trade as Waivers for non-compliance with the conditions of Nigerian-built, Nigerian-ownership and crewing which were meant to be a short term measure has now become a permanent feature; thus making the foreign shipowners view the Cabotage Act as a mere revenue-yielding Act.

” Foreign vessels still hiding under the provisions of this waiver continue to man their vessels with foreigners thus denying Nigerian seafarers employment opportunities and negatively impacting the economy” he stated further.

“The ultimate goal of Nigeria’s Cabotage regime is to achieve the meaningful participation of Nigeria and Nigerians in coastal maritime trade and ultimately increase the competitiveness of the country in international shipping”, he highlighted, noting however that, a poor implementation of the Act’s structural pillars,  prescribing that Cabotage vessels must be built and Owned by Nigerian citizens,  in addition to being registered and crewed by Nigerians had become it’s undoing,  with identified loopholes daily exploited to the detriment of the country and it’s economy.

Subsequently, the Act has failed the targeted vision of creating the desired wealth,  developing shipyards or skills, neither boosting employment nor national security.

Itemizing solutions to the challenges,  the SOAN Arrowhead urged Government to develop policies which would encourage ship-building in Nigeria,  so as to encourage recognized Nigerian ship building yards, strengthening and assisting them to collaborate with international yards to gain more experience and grow in the process of building or assembling ships, flagging off with vessels of between 2000 – 3000 Gross Tonnage (GRT) and below as benchmark.

“The CVFF should be released to qualified shipowners. Where local operators who apply to access the CVFF do not meet criteria of the Primary Lending Institutions approved by NIMASA, collaboration between these companies must be encouraged. A database of bonafide shipowners should be developed which will serve as a guide to know the eligibility of each applicant to the fund”,  he advised strongly,  lauding NIMASA’s investment in the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), to produce skilled manpower at the shortest possible time, even as he grieved that the lack of vessels to provide training berths for sea-time has made the program an exercise a futility.

“To solve the problem, shipowners can provide training berths onboard their ships so the cadets can get sea-time experience. And to offset the cost of these trainings, shipowners can be encouraged by NIMASA by offsetting the cost of cadetship training, to encourage further provision of training berths by vessel owners.

“To effectively handle the influx of vessels into the Nigerian registry, there needs to be a structural readjustment of the manpower at the ship registration office. A dialogue between shipowners and NIMASA on the way forward needs to be discussed and articulated.

“The provisions of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003 represent the foundation of the Nigerian Maritime Cabotage.

“But the implementation of this Act is faced with various institutional, operational and economic challenges. These challenges can be overcome by total adherence to the provisions of the Act.

“For instance, waivers must be for a defined finite period during which capacity must be built. Also, there must be a mandatory review of the performance of the Act at stipulated intervals to ensure that its objectives are ultimately achieved.

“If these challenges are met in line with the Law and policy of the regime, the envisaged benefits to our nation and its citizens will be guaranteed”,  Ogbeifun concluded.

In the meantime, Nigeria plans to raise 110 billion naira ($553 million) in local currency denominated bonds on April 13, the Debt Management Office (DMO) said on Tuesday.

The office said it will sell 50 billion naira of a bond maturing in 2036, 40 billion of paper maturing in 2026 and 20 billion of debt maturing in 2020, using the Dutch auction system.

Results of the auction are expected to be released on the following day.

All the bonds on offer are re-openings of previous issues.

On Monday, the debt office said it plans to raise between 274 billion and 365 billion naira this quarter in local currency-denominated bonds, with maturities ranging between five and 20 years.

Africa’s biggest crude exporter issues sovereign bonds monthly to support the local bond market, create a benchmark for corporate issuance and fund its budget deficit.

Nigeria said it will borrow about 900 billion naira locally to finance part of the 2.2 trillion naira deficit in its 2016 budget.

Additional report from Upshot