The President, Nigerian Shipowners Association, Aminu Umar, has called on the Federal Government to intervene in the delayed disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund to sustain shipping business.
Umar made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos. NAN reports that ship owners have been worried over the non-disbursement of the sum of more than $100 million being administered by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.
The fund has been growing in the last 14 years when the Cabotage and Inland Shipping Act 2003 was enacted. According to Umar, there is no improvement in shipping business in the country, adding that they are still engaging NIMASA over the fund.
He said: “We hope that in 2018, NIMASA will come up with the intervention fund for ship owners because the fund is already there. We want to see improvement in our operations."
“There is need for government to make the CVFF fund transparent so that our members will have access to it. So far, we do not know why the CVFF has not been disbursed and government through NIMASA has not told us why its not being disbursed.”
Umar said there were many indigenous ship owners operating in different sectors of the maritime industry. He said that presently, Nigeria had more than 20 active ship owners in the downstream sector of the oil and gas sector, adding that there were over 100 ship owners operating upstream. The shipowner said all ship owners paid tax to government and also employed a lot of Nigerians and were assisting government to reduce unemployment.
The NISA boss also pleaded with the insurance companies to remove the “War Zone Charges”, which came up due to threats on Nigerian waters as a result of Niger Delta crisis. He said Nigerian coasts should be removed from “War Zone” category because there was no more crisis in the Niger Delta. Umar said in spite of the numerous charges being paid by ship owners, government still charged “Sea Protection Levy”.
The ship owner wondered why the Insurance companies had not removed Nigeria from the list of “War Zones”, saying that ship owners were still paying huge sums as charges.
NAN reports that NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, had said the agency was pushing for the release of the CVFF once ship owners comply with the prescribed ways of accessing the fund. Peterside said the agency was determined to disburse the fund according to the rules and regulations guiding it.