Shipping development: Use CVFF to establish Maritime Bank, mariner tells NIMASA
Mr. Akin Olaniyan , a CEO of a Class Society and the Deputy President of the Centre for Marine Surveyors of Nigeria, wants the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) to be used for establishing a Maritime Bank that would practically support shipping development in Nigeria.
Speaking in an interview, Olaniyan said that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in whose care the CVFF is should be responsible for making the maritime industry truly vibrant.
According to him, the maritime administration should be up to the task by ensuring that indigenous ship owners participate in the cabotage trade.
“Look at the CVFF, it is just sitting down somewhere; whether it is being used for something or been diverted, we don’t know.
“The CVFF should have been used to establish a Maritime Bank, in which case Nigerian ship owners who have funding problems can approach that bank, which will service the industry,” Olaniyan said.
He made a clear position that all the issues of giving the money to some people at some point and how they failed to refund, happened because they did not treat the funding support as a commercial venture.
He emphasized that: “Any commercial bank would have set out modalities of how they would collect their money from borrowers back. So, let us establish the maritime Bank and use the money to capitalise the bank, and they would have the mandate to only deal with maritime issues, and then we will see the economy blossom.”
The master mariner, however, bemoaned the migration of many Nigerian ship owners from the Nigerian Flag to other flags just as he did the sale of vessels by shipowners who could not continue with a harsh business environment.
Now, many Nigerian ship owners have sold their vessels or moved from Nigerian Flag to other Flags because Nigerian Flag is not giving them good services. And if they have moved to other flags it means that the essence of our cabotage is only on paper.
“Nigeria is oil and gas producing nation. Greece is not oil and gas producing, they are a trading nation; Saint Vincent an appendage of the UK, they don’t have oil and gas, yet the Flag is very healthy.
“Nigerian ships should have exclusive rights in dealing with any oil and gas issue. But the excuse they give is that Nigeria insurance does not have enough capital for foreign vessels to be able to take on insurance from Nigerian ships, so they knocked off Nigerian ships.
“As such, it means that we would be exporting labour; instead of using Nigerian crew, ships, boosting our own maritime economy, we are giving it to other countries.”
He insisted that to develop Nigerian shipping, other arms supporting the industry such as insurance, manpower must also be developed, while in the same vein, seafarers trained locally at the Maritime Academy of Nigeria should be given the opportunity for sea time experience.
He noted that the opportunity for sea time training for cadets as soon as they should would only be possible if and when the nation’s maritime industry is vibrant and indigenous ship owners are able to trade robustly.
Besides the challenges of not getting credit facilities to support shipping development, Olaniyan also noted that “Cabotage is not working because you cannot be a shipowner and park the ship somewhere and say until you get a job. The ship must be serviced daily and when the owner does not get job to afford that, he naturally would exit.”
“Like 90 per cent of shipping companies in Nigeria will give tales of woe that they started with three vessels and now they have sold everything. The NNSL went down, not one vessel of the NNSL is left. Even if there are vessels, other necessary areas of the industry must be given friendly environment to be viable, for things to work well.”