…Says only genuine implementation can prove NIMASA’s Sincerity!***
Nigeria’s foremost shipping mogul, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun last week hails Government’s plan of phased banning of foreign built vessels importation into Nigeria ,in a bid to grow the nation’s ship-building industry, describing it as Maritime Industry’s boldest policy till date.
But, he also notes, in a chat in Lagos, that Government sincerity will soon be proved, when it comes to Policy Implementation Stage! Excerpts please:
“I was away when I heard about the Federal Government’s announcement through NIMASA, of the phased- plan to gradually stop the importation of foreign built Vessels into the country. For me, it is probably the boldest policy statement that has been made in the industry, with respect to genuinely wanting to grow in-country capacity, in the area of ship building: especially, home-grown ship building industry.
“The government has come out with that statement and it very communicable; very bold. But, we have to understand that it behoves on every one of us to make that happen. Primarily, it behoves on the people who acquire ships from abroad to see this as a positive step towards investing in this country, for this country, for the people of this country, for our economy; and when we talk about this, everybody wants to talk about the ship owners.
“Who are the ship owners? You can think of a company like STARSZ, you can think of the company like Marine Platform and many others, but don’t forget that NIMASA is a ship owner, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is a ship owner. So, the ship owners we are talking about are both in public and private sectors.
“Therefore, we have to come together to understand, that this policy that the Government has come out with, laudable as it is, will affect even the government, because the government through NPA is one the biggest buyers of ships in the country.
“Government cannot come out with that policy and tomorrow you hear that NIMASA is now ordering for patrol vessels and security patrol vessels from Damen Shipyard or wherever; or that the Nigeria Ports Authority, who as you know, a few months ago, brought in new tug boats built by Damen, will also go back to Damen to still bring in ships from abroad when they have made such a policy statement.
“So, when I read it; I said: this is great! This is because, initially, everybody will first look at the IOCs, who are the main employers of vessels, particularly upstream and thinking: ‘Waow! What are the Totals and the Exxon Mobils or Shells of this world going to do, now that this policy has come out?!’
“But, it is the same thing, like I have just said: what is the NPA going to do now? What is the NIMASA going to do now?
“I hear about a security contract, to police our waters. But, you can’t police the waters without using boats. Those boats or vessels you are going to use, are they going to be built in this country?
“So, it is a laudable, bold policy; but the implementation is what all of us have to be ready, to contribute to. It is not going to be left only for the Government; neither to the IOCs, nor for the ship owners!” he highlights, saying the implementation must be seen as a collective responsibility of all the above, as well as the entire Nigerian media!
The Shipping guru also spoke on the multiplier benefits of a faithful policy implementation, noting that it would soon dovetail into a vibrant steel industry, with serious explosion in employment opportunities for Nigerians, stressing, “It is beyond just looking at boats!”
He made a separation between ship building and ship repair-yards, from Niger dock, LADOL, STARZS and others, and highlighted the much they could easily contribute, if well harnessed.
But, he also indicated a need for true Government’s supports, through desirable taxation regime, maintaining that direct Government patronage, via a direct policy pursuit is for now, lacking.
…To Be Continue