The Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA), Mr Dakuku Peterside, says a lot has to change if the country must compete with the rest of the world in the maritime sector.
He made his position known in an interview with Channels Television on Saturday.
He, however, pointed out some of the achievements of the sector in recent times, among which is the decrease in piracy.
“The rate of piracy has dropped to its barest minimum because we have been able to build on agency cooperation and coordination and we’ve also been able to build a network with our regional partners.”
Apart from that, he stated that in terms of maritime safety, the number of detentions of vessels calling at the ports have reduced because according to him, “people are now more aware that we have zero tolerance for substandard vessels.”
“We have also conducted more inspections than in previous years,” he added.
The Maritime boss also hinted that the Ministry of Transportation was pursuing the real establishment of the national fleet driven by the private sector; an initiative to which NIMASA is giving its total support.
Meanwhile, it was also revealed that indigenous players in the maritime industry may soon begin to rip the benefits of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act as Nigeria is set to disburse over a hundred million dollars sabotaged vessel financing fund.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Maritime Services, Oyewole Leke has said that Nigeria’s economy suffers a loss of at least $15 million everyday as a result of insecurity in the maritime sector.
He made this known while speaking on Channels Television’s Question Time.
Mr Leke revealed that the risk premium on cargos heading to Nigerian ports were high because Nigeria was listed as a ‘risk zone’.
“if you import a car to Nigeria, it costs about $300 more in freight than the ones that go to Kotonu”.
This means that a ship, carrying up to 5000 cars will be charged about $1.5M because it is coming to Nigeria.”
He added that about 25 ships head to Nigerian ports on a daily basis.
In this edition of Question Time, Mr Leke discussed the government’s strategies at solving the issues in the sector.
He said the agency is working to solve all the problems associated to the sector, including: the frequent attacks by pirates, the traffic leading to the ports, the congestion in the ports, the length of time in clearing cargos… etc.
“It’s not what we want yet” but “we have succeeded so far”.
The labour minister, Emeka Wogu, and his counterpart in the transport ministry, Idris Umar, have asked the Attorney General of the Federation to prepare an instrument for the domestication of the maritime labour convention 2006.
The memo which the Federal Executive Council has approved is expected to usher a a turn-around in the maritime sector.
Wogu explained that the law will enable Nigeria develop its maritime sector for better efficiency.
Meanwhile, maritime workers have expressed concern about issues affecting the industry and upper most on their minds is the alleged tax evasion.
The trade union congress of Nigeria and the maritime workers union are separately asking the federal government to probe what they call the dirty tax deals benefitting the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas company.
The unions have said they recognise that between 1998 and 1999, the NLNG was granted a tax break for its pioneering role in the natural gas project.
However, they are now wondering why there’s an issue over the refusal of the Nigerian maritime and administration safety agency to allow them carries on their operations, without paying the back log of tax.