US shipping firms scramble to invest in Nigeria
Strong indications emerged that foreign shipping firms, especially from the United States of America are currently making frantic efforts to partner indigenous shipping firms under the Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage, regime.
This might not be unconnected with recent directives by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board NCDMB to all International Oil Companies IOCs, operating in the country that the board would not renew offshore supply jobs for their foreign owned, crewed and registered vessels on expiration in order to comply with the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003.
The Act, which provides that vessels to be deployed in the inland and coastal trade in the must be built, registered, owned and crewed by Nigerians, also provides for waiver to be granted to foreign shipping firms in situations where Nigerians lack the capacity to render certain services.
President of the association, Captain Niyi Labinjo, who made the disclosure, said that the secretariat of the association has in the recent past been awash with requests and enquiries by American shipping companies, which desire to partner their Nigerian counterparts under the Cabotage regime.
According to him, shipping companies mainly from North and other parts of America have made proposals to many indigenous shipping companies for partnerships on Cabotage vessel acquisition.
He however disclosed that many members of the association have before now entered into bare boat charter arrangements with Asian shipping companies from Greece and Turkey whereby the Nigerian shipping firms would operate the vessels under the terms and agreement and after that they acquire such vessels.
“NISA recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding MoU with Greek ship owners whereby 40 ships of various tonnages and class will be brought into Nigeria’s Cabotage trade on a bareboat charter arrangement and after 24 months, Nigerians will acquire those 40 vessels”, he said emphatically. .
It was gathered that many of the indigenous shipping companies that have entered into such bare boat charter arrangement might not rush into another one with the North American companies, development that informed the delay in consummating the transactions with the American companies.
Labinjo, who is CEO of Al-Dawood Shipping Limited expressed optimism that the fortunes of the indigenous shipping firms would change for good, adding that as soon as the 40 ships enter the nation’s waters, many things would change. Nigerian waters coupled with the promise of government regarding lighterage operations.
He therefore urged the government to fulfill its promise of allocating cargo to the indigenous shipping companies under the Cabotage regime. “What we require to breakthrough is for the government to reserve Cabotage cargo exclusively for Nigerian ship owners so that the 40 vessels would not be idle, which has been the case with many of our vessels before now.
Source: National Mirror