Shipping Line: NIMASA, BPE fish for private partnership

Nigeria may lay claim to being a maritime nation with significant level of vested interests in the sector, but it still lacks requisite capacity in ownership of vessels which is one of the key parameters that drives the industry.

Against the global drivers of the maritime industry, Nigeria is still largely an underdeveloped maritime economy across a broad range of critical indices and factors comprising registration and tonnage, ship owning- interms of dead weight tonnage, liner shipping capacity- in terms of operated container ship capacity by TEU; and shipbuilding- in terms of gross tonnage constructed among others.

It is against this background that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has expressed willingness to partner with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to refloat a National Shipping Line.

The Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside made this known when he played host to the Director General of the BPE, Mr. Alex Okoh at the headquarters of the Agency in Lagos on Monday stating that shipping to an extent defines the growth trajectory of any nation especially as it relates to seaborne commerce.

Speaking further, the DG noted that the greatest asset in the maritime space is the vessel itself and if there are no vessels, one cannot be a major player. “You can only be a major player in name, but in reality you will not get maximum benefit from trade”.

Accordingly, Dr. Peterside disclosed that the only way to guarantee the efficiency and effectiveness of shipping, which will add value to the economy, is through the involvement of the private sector.

The NIMASA DG noted that the Hon. Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi has initiated a process for people from the private sector to pool resources to float a National Fleet, facilitated by the Ministry of Transportation and NIMASA, adding that the process which will enhance the Nigerian Flag is ongoing.

Furthermore, he stated that the Ministry appointed a National Fleet Implementation Committee, headed by the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barrister Hassan Bello, who is also working closely to with the Agency.

“The emphasis of the Federal Ministry of Transportation is to drive a process where we will refloat the National Fleet, this time with the core investors that will own 49 per cent of the shares, whereas, Nigerian Ship Owners will own 51 per cent of the shares of the firm and the firm will also be given the National Career Status. We are looking at different models, hence the importance of this engagement, so that we can review what has happened over time and choose the best model”, the DG Said.

Earlier in his address, Okoh, who commended NIMASA for its strides in repositioning the maritime sector said that the BPE is the Agency responsible for sector and enterprise reforms of the Federal Government. He emphasized that businesses are better managed by the private sector and that government has very little to do in business apart from creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

Accordingly, he stated that the BPE will be willing to partner NIMASA in the quest to revive the National Unity Line in collaboration with the private sector.

“We have looked at the Nigerian Unity Line and the only tangible asset they have is operating license. The license confers on the enterprise certain privileges, deriving from the Cabotage Act and also from the Local Content policy. This can be the foundation for the building block of a virile shipping business in Nigeria”, he said.

He therefore called on the Agency to take a common position with the Bureau in realizing the privatization mandate, which will be forwarded to the National Council on Privatization as the strategic way forward for handling this particular enterprise.

Shipping holds the key to unlock streams of opportunities for any nation. It influences the global economy especially as it relates to defining trade patterns, standards and international best practices.


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