Maritime Stakeholders Urge FG to Review Cabotage Act Of 2003
By Jolly Adjerewe – Port Harcourt
The federal government have been called upon to review the current Cabotage law so as to make it inclusive, attractive, positive, and supportive and to serve as a pedestal for acceleration of national and regional trade growth.
Barr. Danladi Ibrahim, Ag Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority Lokoja, kogi state made these observation at the one day Cabotage Roundtable conference title “the cabotage Act 2003; a critique” in portharcourt said that the current act is obnoxious, over-indulgent, evasive, divisive and un-implementable, it therefore requires to be abolished and re-enacted.
He stressed that the Nigeria version of the Cabotage law in the maritime industry; coastal and shipping act is long overdue for abrogation and re-enactment for purposeful and meaningful impact on coastal inland shipping transportation in Nigeria.
Barr Danladi was of the view that before the cabotage law can affect the different sectors in the maritime industry, stakeholders’ role must be well defined in the new Act. NIMASA must let go a lot of inland water transport regulatory function and concentrate more on its very vital roles of port state control, flag state control, provision of security and universal national maritime communication control platform, search and rescue operations.
He pointed out that the main purpose of the cabotage Act was primarily to simulate indigenous expertise and access to profit accrual from the maritime industry especially within Nigeria territorial waters but unfortunately this has not been so over the years, adding that “to achieve the intent and purpose of the cabotage act, there must be honesty of purpose and political will to do the right thing so that the nation can move in the right direction as the maritime industry is concerned.
Also speaking at the Roundtable conference, Mr Greg Ogbeifun, president ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) said that the provision of the coastal and inland shipping (cabotage) act 2003 to be effective there must be total adherence to the provision of the act by all those involved in the maritime industry
Mr Greg Ogbaifun who spoke on the topic, “ the challenges of cabotage trade in Nigeria; said the waivers given to foreigners must be for a defined finite period during which capacity must be built, stressing that “there must be a mandatory review of the performance of the act at stipulated intervals to ensure that its objectives are ultimately achieved if the challenges to emanated from the implementation of the cabotage law are met in line with the law and policy of the regime, the envisaged benefit of the cabotage act would be enormous to this nation”
He therefore called for the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity so as to stimulate investment due to the availability of cargo and passengers occasioned by the restriction of cabotage to only Nigerian – own ships will cause increment in domestic fleet /tonnage in seagoing vessels, adding that this would also lead to the restriction of the local shipping industry from incapacitation, due to the domination of carriage within Nigeria waters by foreign vessels and protection from unhealthy competition by highly subsidized foreign vessels.