Organiser of the Lagos International Shipping Week, Mrs. Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore, wants modalities on how ships could be acquired by indigenous operators in the sub-sector to be created and applied for immediate solutions.
Edodo-Emore said in an interview on the side line of the event on Tuesday that Nigerian shipowners must have access to financing that would support their acquisition of specified vessels for different operations, so that they are not denied business opportunities on excuses of not having required vessels.
“I think the greatest challenge facing the industry really is acquisition of vessels. It is a problem because you cannot take advantage of the cargo that is generated by the economy without ownership of vessels. And so, we find that we are faced with situation where the vessels that ply our coastal waters and doing the maritime trade are foreign –owned. Unless we deal with that issue, we will continue to talk in vain.
“Actually, the greatest challenge about dealing with that issue is financial, in the sense that those people are coming from other economies where financing vessel is understood to be a long-term issue. While they are able to get their loans on single-digit interest, we are in a community where the financing seem to be short-term, because the financial institutions say they get short -term resources.
“But the reality of the situation now is that in order for Nigerian businesses to acquire vessels, it appears unrealistic for them to do so on Nigerian financing.”
She urged the concerned authority to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), saying: “I will just say one thing, that the CVFF should be disbursed. The funds have accumulated, but has not been disbursed. Even though they say if it is disbursed it cannot be sufficient for everybody, at least disburse the funds.
“So, we can have the practice of disbursing the funds and of people using the funds. So that we can refer that so and so company was able to acquire their vessel using the CVFF. If I was asked to do something in the industry, it will be one of the first things that I will do.”
Talking about the maritime domain security, Edodo-Emore said a sustainable security structure put in place would ensure normal premium for cargoes coming to Nigeria, against what obtains presently where charges are tagged for “war risk” purposes because they see the areas as unsafe.