By Bayo Bernard
The chairman House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Administration and Education, Umaru Bago has picked holes in the issuance of waivers by the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, describing the process as fraudulent.
Bago spoke recently at the Maritime Stakeholders’ Interactive Forum on the ‘Ease of Doing Business” held in Warri, Delta state. Speaking on the theme “Implementation of Executive Order 1’, Bago said the manner of implementation of the waiver clause in the Cabotage Act by NIMASA was bereft of transparency.
“ According to him” I have read through the executive Order 1 of 2017, I find it very interesting, and I take particular note of Article 3 down to 8, which talks about defaults in approvals, this should be very relevant to NIMASA as far as application for waivers under Cabotage is concerned.
He stated further that “The process of issuing the waiver is seen by many as being shrouded in secrecy”, adding that the law provides that waiver “should be granted through a process but yet, NIMASA and the federal ministry of Transportation says they have not granted waivers to any foreign operators in the last six years” he said.
But “If they haven’t, how come these foreign operators are operating on Nigerian waters at the detriment of indigenous operators. My message therefore, is that NIMASA and the federal ministry of Transportation , in treating application for waivers under Cabotage in the with Section 9 and 14 of the Cabotage Act requirement of Article 3 and 8 of the Executive Order, there would no longer be foreign ships scattered on the waters without waiver.” Bago stated.
Meanwhile, penchant criticism has greeted the apex regulatory agency’s quest to acquire new 100 vessels for indigenous operations in the oil and gas sector. The project will be financed from the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund, said Dr. Dakuku Pterside, the agency’s boss. The CVFF is domiciled with NIMASA and believed to be well over $100 bn. NIMASA has refused so far to disclose the exact figure of the CVFF.
Peterside had disclosed at the same forum the agency’s preparedness to purchase the vessels.
But stakeholders insist that the agency direct involvement in the purchase of vessels smirk of fraud, rather the Funds should be syndicated to indigenous ship owners as soft loan through selected money lending institution, MLI in line with international best practices.