The Nigerian Institute of Shipping (NIS) on Thursday urged the Federal Government to use the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) to acquire vessels to be managed through Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
The National President of the institute, Capt. Anthony Onoharigbo also highlighted in Lagos that the disbursement of CVFF was long overdue, hence the need to disburse the fund in the overall benefit of the country, especially in several areas where infrastructures were found lacking.
The Federal Government through the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, said last week at the Nigerian Shippers’ Council Appreciation Night, that the CVFF would soon be disbursed and that it would seek stakeholders’ views on ways to do so.
The CVFF was created by the Cabotage Act of 2003 in Nigeria to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity by providing assistance to Nigerian ship owners in domestic and coastal shipping.
The fund, which is a consolidated fund, is from the two per cent levy payable by ship owners on any vessel engaged in coastal trading as well as revenue accumulated from tariffs, fines and waiver under the Cabotage Act.
The fund has not been disbursed since the scheme came into being.
Onoharigbo said: “This fund has to be disbursed, it is long overdue and it can help the country in so many ways.
“The loss experienced at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) category C can be attributed to the fact that the country does not have a single vessel.
“My suggestion is that the CVFF be used to buy vessels and a committee consisting of private and public partners should be formed to manage the vessel.
“The committee should be put together by the president in collaboration with the minister and businessmen who are into shipping.
“When the group comes together, the businessmen who are into maritime and shipping business, will bring their expertise to bear, while the government would put in their muscles behind it,’’ he said.
The NIS President said that one of the benefits of acquiring the Nigerian vessels is that the minimum number of people that would work on a vessel would be 30 and this would serve as a means of employment.
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He added that the vessel would fly the Nigerian flag and would serve for image booster and expose the country in the global space.
“We have to get the country forward and the CVFF is a means of ensuring that the country is placed where it belongs in the maritime world,’’ Onoharigbo said.
He said that the committee would manage the vessels under the Nigeria name, while government would free up any legislative problems that might have accumulated on it for its smooth running.
The NIS President also advocated for tanker vessel acquisition that would be working for Nigerian government by leasing our oil through Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) and not the Free on Board (FOB) that the country operated now.
He said that while operating on CIF, the insurance and freight would come back to the country as benefits.
“We have a competitive advantage to inspire us to acquire tanker vessel, because we have oil in the country and pushing our oil will help increase the Gross Domestic Product of the country,” he further said.