Experts and stakeholders in the maritime industry have faulted the committee that was recently inaugurated by the Minister of Transportation; Mr Rotimi Amaechi to work on modalities for the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF). The committee is headed by the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside.
In chat with Shipping Position Daily last week in Apapa, the experts who included the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM), Nigerian Institute of Mechanical Engineers and Naval Architects (NIMENA) solicited that the committee should also include members of their separate associations.
The National President of NAMM; Captain Tajudeen Alao, told our correspondent in an interview in Apapa last week, that the committee is supposed to include members of the two associations, adding that they are the people that employ the platform.
He however faulted the minister for setting up a committee for the disbursement of the fund, saying that it is the primary responsibility of the National Assembly.
Alao reiterated that since Cabotage Act is about local trade, not adding members of the two associations is not good enough.
“Under the CVFF Act, the National Assembly is in charge of that, they will now seek the advice or recommendations of the minister of transportation. So if they had given the minister of transport the commendation to go ahead but the disbursement is in the hands of the National Assembly”
“Secondly the committee did not include Master Mariners and Marin Engineers Association, they are supposed to include these two associations it is paramount. So to me the main players in the offshore industry, they are the people who employ these platforms anybody who buys the platform is buying to their certification. Because in the Cabottage we are talking about the local trade now, so they are the people who engage these people and pay”
He maintained that the associations should have been involved in other to protect the seaferers working on the boats.
“So if they are not part of it, I think it is not good. If someone buys ship now and the bank is after him, the bank cannot locate where the ship is, and the person refuses to bring the boat. So if you don’t involve the master mariners and the Marine Engineers to protect the seafarers going to work on those boats”
Alao nevertheless kicked against the idea of giving out money to go and refurbish existing vessels instead of buying new ones.
“And another thing is that we do not support the idea of giving money to go and refurbish old existing boats we are totally against that. So we have so many reasons why we believe that we need input in the committee”
“The bank has risk assessment but the banks do not have the technicality. So they must also attach our association and marine engineers to the bank because they are only after pay back money. They are not into judicious use of the revenue from the loan”
Meanwhile the national president of NIMENA, Engineer Henry Unuigbe in a separate interview with our correspondent last week in Apapa, urged the federal government to broaden the composition of the committee to include members of NIMENA and other professional bodies.
“Like I said I don’t know the composition of the committee but I believe the professionals bodies that are capable of given expertise advice and opinion should be included. It never too late they should broaden the composition, professional bodies those who can give richer and independent advice should be added. If something like that is going on I expect professional bodies like NIMENA not just us but other professional bodies should be part of it because we understand the industry and how it goes from the beginning”
He expressed fear that the committee maybe hijacked by politicians for their selfish interest.
“If they are objective in the composition of the committee I don’t have anything against it, it is not compulsory that we must be there, once they have the right people there I believe they will deliver. But if you put politicians there and people who have personal interest it will be dead on arrival”
“What they should so is to ensure they put in place a proper guideline so that the process will not be abused, it should not be political. People who have all it takes may cash in a quickly register their ships and before you known it they are disbursing the funds to them. So they need to be careful on the way they go about it, if they are not biased then the process will stay through and Nigerians will enjoy it” he concluded.