Maritime expert seeks publication of incentives for proposed national carriers
…As NNPC includes clause to enable indigenous participation in carrying nation’s wet cargo
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) will have to make public incentives for national carriers for the nation’s cargoes, as well publish an interpretation of national carrier status, according to its law.
Renowned marine engineer and a former Director-General, Government Inspector of Ships, Olu Akinsoji, made the observation on the backdrop of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) agreeing to an age-long demand for indigenous shipowners to be considered for carrying the nation’s wet cargo.
Speaking in an interview, Akinsoji said that “Now that this is going to happen, NIMASA must develop incentives for every vessel that wins that contract. They will have to refer to their law to interpret the national carrier status that is inherent in their law, because those vessels will become national carriers.
“To be given a status, there must be a definition of which ship carries that status. Then, they will interpret it in such a way that they will itemize incentives for every of that vessel, because this is part of shipping development, which NIMASA has a responsibility to do.
“Any ship that wins the contract with NNPC on this platform, becomes an extension of the territorial waters of Nigeria, wherever it goes. So, the vessels must be given protectionism like every other country does for the vessel that carry their cargo.
“Importantly, there should be a written incentive to encourage Nigerian-flagged ships and improve them in a manner that they will be able to continue and sustain carrying Nigerian cargo.”
Akinsoji added that the development would enjoy a boost with provisions in the NIMASA law to use 25 per cent of its revenue for shipping development.
He urged that NIMASA should also work in a manner that prospective companies that will win that contract would not face barriers by way of tariffs of charges.
Akinsoji, who is also the pioneer Alternate Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the International Maritime Organisation in London, had expressed joy that the NNPC had added the clause to enable Nigerians participate in shipping of the nation’s wet cargo.
He said that: “It is an interesting development, not just for Nigerians to be given opportunity to carry finished products, but, it also means that the gate has been opened for indigenous participation. Nigeria has begun to recognise and take advantage of its resources as a sovereign nation.”
Speaking on the gains for the nation, Akinsoji said “Now, it means that the money we have allowed other countries to be using to develop their technology, improve their social economic development in their country, we will start to take it back into our country. And that is why everybody should be happy.
“Even if we do not have the capacity technically, we can now own or hire ships to carry those cargo, get insurance to cover the goods for delivery and make some gains from it. Physical gain, administration of hiring ships and also the technology that is involved in running ships. But, we have never done that. We portray ourselves as helpless nation that is incapable of developing itself to be able to give those services to the cargo we generate.”