·Stakeholders Back ISAN,
·Maritime Professionals Threaten Legal Action
Even as government is yet undecided about modalities for its proposed re-entry into ship ownership business, the maritime industry is already engulfed with the condemnation of the move with majority saying it is only a ploy to siphon pubic funds and others predicting that it can only go the way of its predecessors.
The minister of transport had recently disclosed that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has already been given the go-ahead to float another shipping company in partnership with the private sector and as expected, the move has been condemned by a cross- section of ship and non-ship owners who were unanimous that rather than saddle NIMASA with that heavy responsibility, the experience of Indigenous Shipowners Association of Nigeria (ISAN) should be tapped.
The development coincides with the shout of foul play from Port Harcourt, Rivers state-based Maritime Professionals Association (MPA) which is threatening to take legal action against the ministry for excluding it from the implementation process.
The MPA is closely linked with affirm of consultants which goes by the name: Nativeworld Development Consultants Limited (NDC) which claimed to have originated the idea of establishing a national through a public – private partnership via a letter which it wrote to the director general, NIMASA on February 23, 2009.
In the letter which was made available to our correspondent, NDC in which it gave justifications for a new national carrier which will have a start up capital of N500Billion. A similar letter was written to the minister of transport. It was signed by Dr Chinedu Jideofo – Ogbuagu.
Strings of reactions have been trailing the Shipping Position Weekly story (September 7, 2009) on the impending new national carrier and our follow-up editorial (September 14, 2009) in which we advised against the renewed interest on the part of the Federal Government to establish another national carrier about 14 years after the demise of its first national carrier; the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL).
Our investigations however revealed that those who favour an ISAN-spearheaded national carrier expressed shock that government is not interested in the efforts of the umbrella body of Nigerian ship owners who have formed and registered a wholly owned indigenous mega shipping company.
Shipping Position Weekly confirmed that unlike the government’s initiative which is still been debated, ISAN Shipping Lines Limited was incorporated on July 24, 2008 and has a uniform equity of five percent for each of its members.
It was also confirmed that irrespective of the plan to float another national carrier, ISAN is already preparing to acquire six vessels made up of two units of Suez Max and four units of products carriers. We gathered that Skye Bank Plc is the lead bank in the deal which is expected to give an edge to the group.
The ISAN, in a letter addressed to Shipping Position Weekly last week in which t explained its determination to go ahead with the plan to purchase the ships assured that: “by the last week of October, it is hoped that all arrangements for the vessel acquisition would have been completed and made public”.