BY UCHE USIM
The implementation of the cabotage regime in the maritime sector received a boost yesterday as the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), commissioned two Nigerian registered vessels to begin lifting crude oil in the country.
The development, which opens a new vista in the nation’s maritime domain will see more indigenous operators’ participation in the shipping business while increasing their market share from two per cent to about 50 per cent.
The Director General of NIMASA, Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, while commissioning two 45,000 metric tonnes of sea going vessels, MT Abiola and MT Igbinosa, owned by Ocean Marine Tankers Limited in Warri, Delta State, restated government’s commitment to Cabotage implementation.
He also assured all indigenous operators in the maritime sector of the agency’s unflinching support and readiness to protect their rights at all times under the Cabotage regime.
Akpobolokemi commended the management of Ocean Marine Tankers Limited, owners of the vessels, for taking a bold step to invest in the Nigerian maritime sector. He urged more Nigerians to invest in the ownership of ocean going vessels.
In his goodwill message at the programme, Leke Oyewole, Special Assistant to the President on Maritime Affairs, said the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan has provided the enabling environment for effective implementation of the Cabotage regime in Nigeria.
On his part, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Local Content Developing Monitoring Board, Ernest Nwakpa, praised the Jonathan administration for providing the political muscle to break the monopoly enjoyed by foreign flagged vessels in the freight of Nigerian crude.
The NIMASA Act of 2006 clearly states that 60 per cent of the cargo generated by the local, state and federal government should be ferried by local operators but the rickety and moribund state of local shipping companies has robbed them of this robust policy.