Strong indications emerged that apart from its interference in the day to day running of the defunct national carrier, the Nigerian National- Shipping Line, NNSL, Federal Government’s decision to acquire 19combo ships which were at the verge of being phased out contributed significantly to the demise of the company.
Federal Military Government under late General Sani Abacha had in1995, announced the liquidation the company, a decision many stakeholders believed was too hasty and without consultation with major stakeholders.
The liquidation followed the in ability the firm to meet its obligations to staff and the other shipping stakeholders, as her vessels were impounded several times because of their in ability to pay relevant dues and meet other port and flag state regulations.
The captain of one of the 19 ships, Captain Adewale Ishola, who spoke in an interview, hinted that apart from the fact that those combo ships were already being phased out, the method of their acquisition was most unprofessional and therefore gave room for their dry docking at the same time with the attendant high cost of maintenance.
“As at the time General Olusegun Obasanjo acquired those ships, those combo ships were already being phased out in preference for container ships as containers had at that time became the safest means of carrying goods for imports and exports on board ocean going vessels”, he had argued.
According to him, the combo ships were mainly designed for the carriage of both bulk and containerised goods were gradually going out of fashion as at the time government placed bulk orders for their acquisition.
It was also gathered that 11 of the 19 ships were built by Hyundai in Korea while the remaining eight were built inYugoslavia (Croatia) within three years, which experts argued was unprofessional as they should have been spread across a longer period of time say five-10 years.
Captain Ishola, who was reputed to have brought in MV River Karawa, one of the 19 ships to Nigeria at the end of the building processes, noted that the implication of this was that the ships became old at the same time and had to be dry docked at the same, which also implied heavy cost on the company.
He noted that one other disadvantage of the combo ships was that though many of them were of 16, 000 tonnes capacity, could only carry not more than 500 units of containers, which did not make any business sense.
Information from National Mirror was used in this report.