The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has said that the Federal Government would ban importation of certain categories of vessels into Nigeria by 2022 as part of efforts to encourage local participation in shipbuilding.
As a result, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would, from 2022, stop granting foreign exchange, (forex) and the Nigeria Customs Service would stop issuing any forms of permit to importers of vessels.
The Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who disclosed this in Lagos at the weekend during a press conference, said the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003, which came into force in 2004 is essentially a local capacity-building law.
“Its central plank is to empower Nigerians for greater participation in maritime trade. The law seeks to achieve that goal through four key pillars, namely, ensuring that vessels that operate in our coastal waters within the countrys territory are built in Nigeria, owned by Nigerians, manned by Nigerians, and registered in Nigeria.
“It was in an attempt to arrest the seeming drift that NIMASA came up with a five-year strategic plan, beginning from 2021, to end in stages the grant of Cabotage waiver. The winding down process is phased to avoid major disruptions to the Cabotage trade. The plan is to achieve the key objectives of the Cabotage Act in terms of in-country construction, ownership, manning, and flagging of ships engaged in coastal trade,” he added.
According to him, the process of bringing the grant of Cabotage waiver to a gradual end has already begun, with the Agency launching a renewed effort to implement the provisions of the Cabotage Act, which, he said, followed a series of engagements with stakeholders.
He said that NIMASA has adopted a strategy of encouraging Nigerians to go into joint ventures and joint ownership of vessels with foreign operators on a 60-40 basis, saying it has started yielding fruit with about 20 new vessels currently flying the Nigerian flag under the arrangement, as against one in 2018.
He hinted that bareboat charter of vessels has witnessed an increase, while foreign-owned vessels on Nigeria’s Cabotage register has witnessed a decline.
He noted: “It will interest you to know that, there has been an increase in the number of wholly owned Nigerian vessels on the Nigerian Cabotage register. The 2018 half year result showed that 125 vessels were registered, representing a 33 per cent increase when compared with the 94 registered in the corresponding period in 2017. Currently, there are more than 200 vessels captured in the Cabotage register.
“Also, about 68 per cent of vessels trading within the country’s maritime space are Nigerian-flagged. So the Agency is doing a lot in ensuring adequate attention is paid to the essence of the Cabotage, aimed at encouraging indigenous participation and job creation.”
He said one of the critical agencies NIMASA is collaborating with in the capacity-building and Cabotage waiver cessation strategy is the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
He said NCDMB has the mandate to build local capacity in the oil and gas sector in line with the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act.