Ship owners and maritime experts have backed the Federal Government’s ultimatum to International Oil Companies (IOCs), to ban unregistered vessels in Nigerian waters within the next three months.
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) just announced a three-month ultimatum to IOCs engaged in cabotage trade to register all vessels used in coastal and inland water trade or risk sanctions.
At the expiration of the three months, NIMASA would notify relevant government authorities and the IOCs to bar vessels without valid cabotage certificates.
Operators are also to renew their Cabotage Operational Certificate/License for the vessels within the period.
The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said the Maritime notice was part of efforts to ensure strict enforcement of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003 and Guidelines on Implementation of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003.
“Ultimately, our intention is to build and continue to enhance the capacity of Nigerians in the shipping industry in line with relevant international regulations.”
Reacting, former president of the Nigerian Ship-owners Association (NISA), Chief Isaac Jolapomo, threw his weight behind the actions of NIMASA, insisting that the move was long overdue.
Jolapomo who also blamed the system for the behaviour of foreign liners operating in Nigerian waters said the ban, if not truncated by the powers that be in the Maritime sector, is able to curb the excesses of owners of vessels.
“I say with due sense of responsibility that the action was long overdue. Most foreign vessels operating in Nigeria waters come from outside. They do not have any stake in the development of the sector. All they are interested in is to make their money and go.”
Maritime lawyer and human rights activist, Olisa Agbakoba, also hailed NIMASA on this. The former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), said those who evade paying government tax and to be sanctioned.
“Those who do not pay tax are law breakers and should not be allowed to operate. The Ministry of Finance is devising new ways of funding the 2021 budget and part of the move is to block all areas of revenue leakages in the maritime industry.”