The Chairman, Sea Transport Nigeria Limited, Alhaji Aminu Umar, has stressed the need for clear modalities to access the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) approved by President Muhammadu Buhari for disbursement to genuine indigenous ship owners. Umar sought the clarification on the sidelines of the flag-off ceremony of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), Terra ll initiated by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), aimed at developing seafarer manpower for the maritime industry. He explained that properly structured modalities would encourage prospective ship owners and boost ship owning capability in the country. Umar said: “Our expectation as ship owners is that it should have modalities on how to access the fund should be put in place as the NIMASA’s director general promised, so that all the potential ship owners, who intend to access the fund should have easy access to the fund.”
The chairman noted that with the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement in place, there would be increased cargo movement within the African continent, with great prospects for shipping business in Nigeria. He said that the demand for off takers as requirement for accessing the CVFF would properly situate cargo at the heart of shipping, where it indeed belongs. “If you look at the outlook for West Africa, with the Af- CFTA being signed, there is the access for cargo; intra-Africa cargo movement; A lot of cargo coming out of Nigeria to other West African countries. Nigerians have started commodities export very well, which means there is cargo.
All these cargoes coming in and out of Nigeria require ships. So, there is huge demand for shipping. It simply means that the outlook is good,” he said. Umar said there were multiple areas in need for shipping, against thoughts that it is only with contracts given by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited, noting that there were many different areas of shipping. He explained: “Shipping has different segments; they are people who are doing offshore services, those who load dry cargo, bulk cargo carriers and those who load oil and they are not in offshore services.
“It is not restricted to people who get contract from NNPC or Shell or Chevron. There are container movers, who move containers within West African Region. I believe those ones would be able to show the business case and they would be able to access it.” Umar stressed that the idea behind national fleet was to increase the capacity of Nigerians to own more vessels, which was what a ministerial committee that reviewed the discussion submitted. He said: “The minister is saying what his predecessor already said. The committee that was inaugurated then was to put together modalities to develop Nigerian shipping industry, which means that there should be more ships owned by Nigerians, and no intention in whatever way, to make a national carrier. There is a difference between national carrier and national shipping line and then national fleet.” It would be recalled that President Mohammed Buhari approved the disbursement of the controversial Cabotage Vessels Financing Funds (CVFF) to ship owners. The funds is said to have accrued over $350million since inception in 2004.
The Minister of Transportation, Engr Muazu Sambo, disclosed this at the flag off ceremony of the third phase of Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) in Lagos on Saturday. He said that the disbursement was with immediate effect, saying that the five Primary Lending institutions (PLI) would drive the process.