A maritime expert, Mr. Lucky Amiwero has explained that having a national carrier is very crucial in the country as it will help in the lifting of preferential cargoes especially in the oil and gas sector of the economy.
Amiwero who gave this explanation in a chat with Shipping Position Daily, last week, however maintained that national carriers are not government-driven.
He however urged the federal government to provide an enabling environment for private individuals to go into acquisition of national carrier, even as he said that the government doesn’t have the backing of the law to do that.
“If you look at the law, national carrier is not a government thing, it is for Nigerian indigenous operators to have what we call indigenous carrier, it is not even what the government is trying to do because it is not backed by law”
“Once we have a national carrier, that means we must create and enabling environment. And why do you have a national carrier so that they will have to have preferential cargoes that they will carry or technical things that are generated from Nigerian and some of the goods from oil and gas about 50% that is why you have national carrier”
Explaining further, he urged the federal government to borrow a leaf from what American government has done in that regards.
“It is not a political thing, it is a technical thing and Nigeria is supposed to have done that. Other countries have done it, that is what America is surviving on, they have a lot of subsidies which they have those days and they have narrowed it to fleet expansion programme, but Nigerian has not done anything. We don’t have any fleet and we have fleet expansion in our law”
Amiwero urged the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to support individuals in the acquisition of the national carrier.
“We must be serious as a nation. For us to be a maritime nation we must comply with most of the provisions we have in the NIMASA Act. The NIMASA Act is not all about training people abroad , there are many things you have to do there. NIMASA should comply with the laws because the agency has the core function and it is not looked into. You look at Article 16 and 17 of NIMASA Act”
“They have the maritime fund and it is supposed to be a fund for indigenous maritime operators to thrive. According to the law you have to create enabling environment for them to thrive and if you don’t have national carrier, how do you do it. It is not a government carrier; it is government driven. So the laws are there and you have a Cabotage Act which nobody is benefitting. So we have a system that is not working” he concluded.