The Indigenous Ship Owners Association of Nigeria(ISAN) has deplored the Federal Government’s inability to enforce the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2003 (Cabotage Act) to enable them participate in crude oil lifting.
Speaking with The Nation in Lagos, ISAN General Secretary Captain Niyi Labinjo urged the government to implement the law to give indigenous shipping companies opportunity to participate in oil business.
The country, he said, exported about 2.5 million barrels of oil yearly, wondering why indigenous ship owners are not empowered to lift about 1.5 million barrels.
The banks, the ISAN scribe said, were willing to give them loans if the government could give them appreciable quantity to carry.
He gave the example of Brazil where the government approves about 700 agencies which issue certificate of compliance on local content.
Labinjo said about five years ago, the government trained 200 cadets under the National Seafarers Development Programme. He noted that since there were not enough shipping companies to work with, the cadets have been jobless.
He advised the government to provide enough funds for the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Akwa Ibom, to enable the academy to produce skilful cadets for the nation.
He, therefore, sought proper compliance with Nigerian Content Act and encouragement of the association to participate fully, in the cabotage regime.
“We will continue to press the government. We’ll continue to make our views known about the need for proper compliance with cabotage; about the need for proper compliance with the Nigerian Content Act.” If I have a government that is insisting that this year out of the 2.5 million barrels of oil that Nigeria exports, 1.5 million barrels would be carried by Nigerian and they say ISAN take this 1.5 million barrels, go and carry it, we will gladly go to the bank; the bank will give us money and we will do it.
“So if you now say what is our expectation then we will now say this year we will struggle to carry the one million the government has given to us and hopefully by next year, we will do 1.5 million barrels. That is the expectation.
“That is what has happened in the case of Brazil. Their government insists that you must use local content and the government approves about 700 agencies which were issuing certificate of compliance on local content.
“So if you are producing this locally and it is being used by the oil and gas sector, someone will intend to continue to do it,” he said.
Information from The Nation was used in this report.