There are twenty vessels currently plying the international waters which are in joint venture partnership with Nigerian shipowners.
This is a result of an agreement that has local shipowners partnering with their foreign counterparts on a-60 -40 basis.
The Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency- Dr Dakuku Peterside, who disclosed this recently, said the agency adopted a strategy of encouraging Nigerians to go into joint ventures and joint ownership of vessels with foreign operators.
He said the number of ships flying the Nigerian flag as a result of this arrangement had increased from one in 2018 to 20 in 2019.
Equally, the bareboat charter of vessels has witnessed an increase, while foreign-owned vessels on Nigeria’s Cabotage register has witnessed a decline, he added.
He said, “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.”
According to Peterside, one of the critical agencies NIMASA is collaborating within the capacity-building and Cabotage waiver cessation strategy is the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board.
He added, “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 Act.
“The NIMASA/NCDMB cooperation is already yielding fruit, as both agencies have achieved the categorisation of vessels for uniformity and harmonised enforcement.
“That collaboration has also helped in the conduct of capacity audit of existing shipyards and maritime training institutions in the country.”
On the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund, Peterside said NIMASA was currently working with the Federal Government and the Federal Ministry of Transportation to ensure early disbursement.
It is said that all the efforts by NIMASA to get shipowners to participate in the local shipping sector that is mostly dominated by foreign players, is to make up for the inability of the shipowners to access the CVFF after more than 10 years of its establishment.
The CVFF was established by the Cabotage and Inland Shipping Act 2003 to provide finance to operators to maintain vessels, purchase new vessels, stay in business, build capacity and create employment.
The fund is derived from two per cent of the revenues of the shipowners and has been in operation since 2004.
As of 2019, the fund had reportedly accumulated to $124m(N44.64bn).
Operators have continuously lamented their inability to access the fund.
Recently, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, promised to meet with relevant government agencies under the Federal Ministry of Transportation as well as indigenous shipowners to work out the modalities and process of disbursement of the fund this year.
For years, Amaechi had argued against the wisdom of giving the funds to local shipowners whom he accused of having a ‘divided house.’