The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr Emmanuel Jime, on Friday said the council would pursue incentives that would boost indigenous shipowners operations.
Jime said this when Dr Mkgeorge Onyung, President, Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), paid him a courtesy visit in Lagos.
Jime, also Chairman, Nigeria Fleet Implementation Committee, said it was critical that the incentives be implemented for Nigeria to assume its rightful place as a maritime hub.
He said that as the chairman of the fleet implementation committee, he would push for a zero import duty on vessels.
On funding, Jime said that the committee was thinking of establishing a shipping sector support fund and export tariff waiver for Nigerian vessels.
“On other incentives, shipping community should be given the right of first refusal for national carrier procurement processes of all cargo without any exception, as when implemented will benefit them.
“We are also advocating for a work permit to be issued only upon verification of unavailability of ratings and officers.
“If the ratings are not given the protection and cover they need, then they will be unable to face the competition with foreign shipping lines and companies,” he said.
Jime also called for a change in the country’s crude oil trade policy noting that at the moment, there was no sufficient participation of Nigerian shipowners in this area of the economy.
He said the council’s advocacy was for the existing policy that denied Nigerian shipping community participation in oil and gas business be changed.
Jime urged the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to adopt a zero duty for ship finance registration, stressing that the fleet implementation committee under his watch would pursue these things.
Jime said the meeting was germaine as it would pave way for discussion with the association as regards the shipping industry and plans to position Nigeria to take its rightful place, as a maritime hub.
“Unless and until we get to the point where ship ownership is addressed effectively, we are never ever going to attain that position, assumption of being a maritime hub.
“Therefore, the Shippers’ Council giving this responsibility of leading the fleet implementation committee has already identified a number of areas that will be of interest to the association,” he said.
Jime noted that the council would facilitate the engagement of domestic and international bodies in public and private sectors toward the attainment of the objectives of establishing a Nigerian fleet.
He said that an institutional framework especially the legal aspect, would be developed to anchor the Nigerian fleet, develop strategies that would incentivise the private sector to invest in ship ownership.
“The ship will be registered in the Nigerian ship registry.
“We will set out action items that will encourage the development of ship building and repairs facilities, we will provide guidelines and recommendations to augment maritime manpower capacity.
In his remark, Onyung said maritime was the biggest business worldwide that held the key to unlocking the economic prosperity of Nigeria.
He said if the country did not have ships, there would be no port, no customs and so many other things.
He said that Norway owned 45,000 ships worldwide having only population of 5.3 million people and its waters frozen eight months in a year, only free for four months.
“Each day, one or two of their ships visit Nigeria port.
“We have the capacity and we want to employ you that we want to work together, nobody will reinvent the wheel for us, it is already set just for us to do what others are doing,” he said.