Despite the high cost of cargo clearance, Nigeria’s ports are busier than those in neighbouring countries because of the viability of the economy, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Maritime, Olugbenga Leke Oyewole.
He said this in Lagos while responding to allegations by shippers that the cost of cargo clearance is higher at the ports than what obtains in the ports of adjoining countries, such as Cotonou in Niger Republic, adding that the economy is doing well.
He said: “We have the largest population in the sub-region, therefore, more things are likeliy to come here. For instance, if a ship takes a car to Cotonou and another one to Nigeria, the one that comes to Nigeria takes $300 more than the one to Cotonou. That shows it is fertile and it is good for them to continue to blackmail this country to ensure that government stops collecting this money.”
Besides, he said unlike in past when there were security concerns in the Nigerian waters, the government has put the issue of sea piracy under control.
“When last did you hear about piracy in our waters? Two or three times in about five months as against the regular basis, which it occurs before. President Goodluck Jonathan has tried in that regard, so are we not qualified to be removed from such list of high piracy zone. We also need to move against them to remove our name, he added.
Oyewole also commented on the inaccessibility of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) by operators. He said discussions were ongoing on the matter in Abuja. He said: “There are ongoing efforts to ensure that people get this loan.”
The Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, also said the Federal Government has approved six firms as beneficiaries of the CVFF, but that nothing has come out of it.
The minister said: “Realising the importance of the participation of the indigenous operators in the achievement of sustainable development and enhancement of indigenous capacity, the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act (Cabotage Act) was enacted and provides for the establishment of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund. This is intended to assist indigenous operators to acquire vessels. For purposes of disbursements, four primary lending institutions namely Diamond Bank, Fidelity Bank, Skye Bank and Sterling Bank have been appointed.
“Out of the several applications received for the CVFF facility, six applications have been processed and endorsed by these aforementioned Primary Lending Institutions (PLIs) and accordingly recommended by the management of NIMASA (Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency) to the ministry and are being evaluated for approval.”
The CVFF is funded by the two per cent of the contract sum performed by any vessel engaged in the coastal trade which is collected the NIMASA.
The fund is meant to be disbursed to enable purchase of more vessels to boost the nation’s local fleet.
Information from The Nation was used in this report.