Indigenous ship owners are expecting to rake in N5.4 billion from literage operations in Nigeria’s territorial waters. Asides this revenue, about 500,000 Nigerians would get direct or indirect employment if the provisions of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2003 are strictly implemented by the federal government.
Speaking in Lagos, the President of Nigerian Ship owners Association (NISA), Captain Olaniyi Labinjo, noted that indigenous ship owners can take their rightful place in the scheme of things if literage operations in Nigeria territorial waters can be strictly reserved for only Nigerian ship owners.
Otherwise called Cabotage, the objective of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003, the primary goal of the Act is to reserve commercial transportation of goods and services within Nigerian coastal and inland waters to vessels flying the Nigerian flag and owned by persons of Nigerian citizenship.
In order to ensure that the citizenry fully derive the benefits of cabotage, the Act also provides that vessels meant for Coastal and Inland shipping in the country should be entirely crew by Nigerians.
Expressing dismay that indigenous ship owners are often been neglected by relevant government agencies over the years, Labinjo argued that the situations can be squarely addressed if the provisions of the Act are fully implemented no matter what it takes.
According to him, the import vessels, otherwise called mother vessels that bring refined petroleum products to Nigeria,” stay at Cotonou port, Republic of Benin or Lome port, Republic of Togo offshore and small tankers do the lighterage to bring the products to Nigerian ports. This is a grave violation of the provisions of the Act.”
Labinjo said the government gave indigenous ship owners assurance to allow only Nigerian vessels to conduct the lighterage operations. “This is what informed our going out to secure ships for the lighterage through collaboration with the Greeks, Turkish and Americans,” he said.