Tuesday, May 24, 2016 10:40 pm
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has said that the Federal Government will enforce the Cabotage Act, to attract private investors into the nation’s shipping industry.
Amaechi, while fielding in questions at the forum of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
in Abuja on Tuesday, said that the Cargo Vessel Financing fund would be used to assist
Nigerians who have vessels on the coastal line and would take equity in the national carrier.
“At the last stakeholders meeting we had with the maritime investors, we agreed that there is the need to implement the Cabotage Act.
“There is the need to enforce the law but what I don’t like is the emphasis on what do we do about the money.
“Just give us the money; and I said I won’t give anybody the money because
the money the Federal Government spent on aviation, we have not recovered it.
“There is no guarantee that if we give out this money we can get it back. So, I told them I prefer to talk about the national carrier; we also talk about national carrier in the maritime sector.
“What we are doing in that sector is to say okay, the Cabotage Fund we will use it to fund Nigerians who would take equity in the national carrier.
“But we would have to look for foreign investors who would bring their own money and it will be managed by those foreign investors so that we don’t throw another asset away.
“It’s going to be that you are a serious investor; that you are a serious-minded person who has vessels in our coastal line, we can then encourage you by giving you a pay for your equity in the national carrier that is how the Cabotage Act will run.“
He said that a committee had been set up to negotiate with foreigners who would invest and get equity contribution in the national carrier.
The minister said that over 1,000 seafarers had been trained but that the lack of sea time had hindered their deployment.
According to him, having a national carrier is essential to help the seafarers move vessel for commercial activities, which empowers them as a seafarer.
“We have over 1,000 to 2,000 seafarers that have already been trained; we cannot boost anymore because they don’t have sea time.
“Once you don’t have sea time, you are not a seafarer; nobody will hire you; so we have more foreign seafarers on our waters than Nigerians on our waters.
“The national carrier is essential because it gives them the opportunity to have sea time to put them in the vessel to go for commercial activities and come back; by the time they do that for one
year, they will become seafarers.
“So, the emphasis is on how to get sea time; we will talk with local investors to see how we can succeed in getting the national carrier, the minister said.’’