THE disbursement of Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) would begin soon to assist local operators in the maritime sector, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) dropped the hint in Lagos at the weekend.
Its Director-General Dakuku Peterside said the challenges confronting effective implementation of local content development, under the cabotage regime, included inadequate infrastructure, skills gap and uncooperative attitude of some institutions, which are reluctant to invest in the sector.
Represented by Deputy Director, Maritime Labour Services, Mr. Victor Egejuru, who spoke on the sideline of a breakfast meeting organized by the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) in Lagos, he said there were challenges confronting the effective implementation of local content under the cabotage regime.
He said the challenges include inadequate infrastructure, skills gap and uncooperative attitude of some institutions in the country. According to him, the institutions prefer short-term facilities against long-term facilities, adding that shipping is capital intensive and most of the banks shy away from it.
He recalled that before now, the maritime space was dominated by foreigners, adding that story has changed. He said the Cabotage Act had restricted the use of foreign vessels and foreigners from participating in the coastal trade, and to a large extent, the agency has been able to address that through promotions, financial assistance and encouraging Nigerians to go into joint venture, as well as by enforcement.
He said enforcement is carried out in collaboration with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB). He also said this was necessitated by the fact that the content board has an interface with oil majors who give out these contracts. He also said the Nigerian Seafarers Development Program was in progress with over 2000 Nigerians trained in first-class maritime institutions overseas.
“Some of these people have graduated, some are already working in Nigeria, the essence is to ensure that at least, if we say these vessels must be manned by Nigerians, we will have the capacity to take over from these foreigners,” he said.
He said the agency has conducted the capacity audit of the shipping sector to determine what the country has and what it does not have so that the agency could fill the gap. “We are also looking at the provision of incentives in terms of giving tax waivers and the like to Nigerians who import maritime related equipment so that they can favorably compete with their foreign counterparts,” he added.
Also, Nigeria Chamber of Shipping, Director-General, Obiageli Obi said the government lacked the political will to make local content work. She blamed poor implementation on the authorities. She noted that there were companies and government agencies that had the content on their table, but had not done what they were supposed to do.