The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, has said the agency will aggressively push for the implementation of policies that would support fleet expansion in the country.
He also said NIMASA would ensure that financial bottlenecks that hindered ship acquisition and ownership in the country are eliminated.
Jamoh, who said this during an interactive session with journalists in Lagos recently, explained that the initiative would help improve economic activities and stimulate growth.
“We have to expand our fleets. Over the five years, we have looked at our ship owners to find out if there ship is increasing or reducing? Most of them are reducing,” he said.
Furthermore, he revealed that the agency would launch its floating dockyard that would earn N1 billion from repair ships every month.
Jamoh said NIMASA has been collaborating with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to launch the dockyard.
Jamoh said the floating dockyard would help stakeholders in cabotage trade that do not have facilities to repair their vessels.
He said: “You are aware the NIMASA took a proactive step and constructed the N17 billion floating dockyard last year.
“We entered into agreement with the Nigerian Ports Authority to give us its continental shipyard. Our plan is to create an arrangement where the NPA will provide its continental shipyard as the owner of the platform while NIMASA owns the floating dockyard.
“We expect that before the end of September we will be able to achieve this. The dockyard will earn a revenue of N1 billion per month with the capacity to employ 350 youths.”
The dockyard, according to Jamoh, would be a multipurpose facility with five essential sections that include “mechanical, electrical and surveying. We will also bring students from Maritime Academy of Nigeria Oron and the Nigeria Maritime University, Okrenkoko, for training within the facility. It is a multipurpose facility with bright future for Nigeria and younger generation.”
He also disclosed that NIMASA has commenced the revival of ship building in Nigeria and is currently understudying how many ship building companies we have in the country, their original capacity and how they have been operating till now.
“From our preliminary investigation, everything so far is negative. So, we are trying to know from research why things are so. It may not be disassociated from the general economic situation all over the world. But we will know how to address it when we get the report of the research,” he said.
He said the federal government suspended the Ship Acquisition and Ship Building Fund because many Nigerians that accessed it failed to repay their loans.
The director general said the fund was replaced with the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), which was created by the Cabotage Act of 2003.
However, Jamoh noted that the guidelines contained in the Act made it totally impossible for stakeholders to appropriate the CVFF. “Now we are having problems. From 2003 to date we have not disbursed a single fund from the savings we have with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) due to a lot of bottle necks.”
He pointed out that the directive that banks should contribute 35 per cent and at the same time guarantee the 50 per cent NIMASA contribution to the facility hindered the utilisation of CVFF.
Jamoh said: “The Act directed that we have to get primary lending institutions like the commercial banks. Its disbursement must be 50 per cent from NIMASA, 35 per cent from the bank and the 15 per cent from the beneficiary of that loan. From experience we have lost a lot of money to ship building and acquisition fund. So, the Act provided that banks must guaranty NIMASA’s 50 per cent in the event of failure. So, it became difficult to disburse the investment.”
He said that the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, requested and got President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval to disburse of the fund in November last year. “But we discovered that because of these technicalities, we cannot move forward,” he said.