Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) President, Dr Mkgeorge Onyung on Thursday announced the fine tuning of a Shipping Expo exhibition, whose delivery will create significant employment and investment opportunities.
Onyung highlighted this at a news briefing in Lagos, saying that the Expo with the theme: “The Ocean Blue Economy and National Development”, was chosen to enable Nigeria explore opportunities in the blue economy, as well as genuinely boost the nation’s economy.
Tagged as “The Lagos international Shipping Expo”, the exhibition is scheduled to hold on November 27 and 28 at the Oriental Hotel, in determined aim of exposing Nigerians to utilize the resources of the ocean for sustainability.
He frowned on the fact that ship-owners in spite of the huge risk and investment in the Ocean business were still perceived as ‘participants’ and ‘stakeholders’ in a business they should be ranked first, and posited that SOAN would henceforth adopt measures and build concepts as ‘shareholders’, in the overall interest of the nation.
Dr. Onyung lauded the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), for its five-phased cessation of waivers, stressing that the gesture would no doubt open a new window of investment for the country, as well as significant employment opportunities; even as he assured that the ship owners would synergize with the agency and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that NIMASA actually midwife the initiative.
Expatiating on the immediate vision of the body, the SOAN President said shipowners have decided to entrench a culture of proactive capacity building and acquisition, adding that it was the most vibrant approach towards taking the country to the next level.
He pointed out that it was instructive that if Singapore which has no Steel Rolling Mills, is still able to build ships, why not Nigeria, adding: Rome was not built in a day; but we also know it was not built in a million years!” , saying the ship owners were now determined to assist the Cabotage Act to work.
“Our Cabotage Law has been with us for 15 years now; we’ll see it as contribution to ensuring that we open the doors for people to understand what Cabotage really means and the opportunities in it.
“The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had established a committee between the agency and stakeholders to look into the challenges affecting the waivers in the last five years.
“We must have both ship building and ship repair yard in Nigeria, there is need to open up for acquisiton.
“Within the next five years, the Nigeria Content will be in the region of 3.5 billion dollars and in order to enjoy these benefits, we need to upgrade our capacity.
“The upcoming conference will open opportunities to collaborate toward ship building opportunities in Nigeria,” onyung said.
He said the association was working toward decongesting the Lagos ports by reviving the other ports in the country to create more jobs for Nigerians.
Onyung said Nigeria was blessed with over 840 kiloliters of Nautical miles of coastline and nearly 10,000 kilometers of Inland waters, adding that if Norwegian who annually had their waters frozen for eight months still owned as much as about 20 percent of internationally trading ships, then Nigeria with fresh waters all through the year has no excuse for not committing to serious manpower development and ship acquisition.
Dr. Onyung described shipping as an old trade from which Nigeria was yet to truly benefit, hence the need to get more serious on the task of building capacity in the shipping business.
The SOAN boss said all shipowners in Nigeria have been working tirelessly towards ensuring that Cabotage Act is made effective in the country.
He therefore emphasized the need for Nigerians to expand shipping capacity, and take advantage of NIMASA’s marine notice, established to ban substandard ships from coming into the country, in addition to a gradual but consistent phase out of certain category of vessels.