Ship Owners Express Fear Of Going Into Extinction    

L-R: Former Executive Secretary Nigerian Shipper’s Council; Capt. Adamu Biu, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency; Dr. Dakuku Peterside, CEO of Starz Marine; Engineer Greg Ogbeifun and the Secretary General of the Abuja MoU; Barr. Mfon Usoro at the  Maritime Stakeholders Interactive forum in Calabar, Cross Rivers State On Monday 

• Say fleet drop by 45% in 3 years

The Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) has lamented a drastic drop in the number of vessels owned by its members, adding that if care is not taken, the association may go into extinction.

The President of the association, Engineer Greg Ogbuefun disclosed this in an event organised by the  Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in Calabar.

Speaking during the event, he said that for the past three years as the president of the association, the size of fleet of ships owned by its members has reduced by 42%.

"Today as one of the ship owners in the country, as the president of the association, three years as the president, the size of the fleet of ships by our members have reduced by 42%. So we are gradually going into extinction and we are not doing anything about it. One of the critical things to do is to listen to the long cry of re-engineering the national lines and I am happy with what you are doing with CBN"

He also lauded NIMASA for the wonderful initiative of bringing stakeholders together to brainstorm on ways to move the industry ahead.

"The benefit of this interaction is very obvious, it is an interaction to bring industry regulators, like NIMASA and an interactive session with government agencies, legislatures  executive arm of the government as well as real practitioners in the industry like the ship owners, and all that. Before I go forward I want to use this opportunity to appreciate what my brother and the DG of NIMASA is doing to sanitize the Nigerian maritime industry with what he is doing with CBN and all that. In December there was a forum like this where I took the microphone to criticize what the industry was doing and I listed about 10 points why the nations wouldn't have done well in the IMO election. And as a vibrant person today he has addressed more than 60% of those issues", he said.

"We believe that with this type of  interaction, the opportunity, challenges and role of the government will be identified and more importantly, it has to do with a clearly defined road map of implementing the contents of the communiqué that will come out and possibly with timelines. And I always say that develop your communiqué and implementation plan for the contents of the communiqué but more importantly, produce timeline for which certain things should be achieved"

He advised the government to introduce a periodic review of the accomplishment the sector has recorded.

"And if possible introduce a periodic review of the accomplishment. If you listen to one of the speakers he said that every year we are having talk shows and its time we begin to measure the results and accomplishment of such talk show", he advised.

Speaking on the challenges of the association’s members, he canvassed for an enabling environment for their members.

"Our challenges in the industry are very obvious, enabling business environment, funding is a particular issue. The ship owners would have loves to see this country participating in global and international trade and this cannot happen if government policies are not implemented"

According to him, there should be a zero duty on ships coming flying the nation's flag adding that it is not the work of NIMASA alone.

"For example if you are from the UK and you decide to buy a national ship and flag it with national flag, they have a law that if your bringing that ship to the country the duty is zero. But here in Nigeria if I want to buy a ship is still have to pay 40-50% duty and that makes it impossible for indigenous shipping to grow. NIMASA is doing what they can to within the ambient of the law it is beyond NIMASA. What we are talking about is for example, if NIMASA through the ministry of transport come out to say if your in  Nigeria and you are buying a ship and bringing it to the country to flag in Nigeria there should be zero duty"

He called for all the ministries involved to work together towards achieving the set goals.

"But on the other arm of the government, the customs will be saying NO, we have a target to generate some amount of money through duty, you see they cannot agree. So it is beyond NIMASA, it has to be an inter-ministerial engagement. That is why we van make reference to an engagement we has with the Presidency a couple of weeks ago. Where a ministerial committee has now been set up to look at the physical incentives that will make it  possible for an environment to be creates for international ships" he concluded.