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Maritime stakeholders seek Govt’s deliberate support for shipping sector in Nigeria

Right-Left: The
Representative of the Managing Director (NPA)/ General Manager Corporate &
Strategic Communications (C&SC) Engr. Jatto .A. Adams receiving a corporate
award for transparency and Infrastructural Development in Nigerian Ports from the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council Hassan Bello during
the event.

A cross section of key stakeholders in Nigeria’s maritime
industry have called on the government to consider policies and some incentives
that could grow the shipping sector for the benefit of operators and the nation’s

The various stakeholders made their call at the 20th Anniversary
Lecture/Awards and Patrons’ Investiture ceremony held on Thursday in Lagos by
the League of Maritime Editors, with the theme “Indigenous Fleet Development,
What Options?”
Barr Hassan Bello, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian
Shippers Council (NSC) and Guest Speaker on the occasion, advocated for a
deliberate government policy that would provide national incentives to
encourage indigenous fleet development in the nation’s shipping industry.
He emphasised the need to institutionalise such incentives
for the sector, to gain and sustain investors’ trust and ensure protection from
political influence.
The incentives, Bello said, should be “comparatively simple,
but reliable ship registration procedure” which is efficient and full of
He said the incentives should also include:  “a very strong safety administration system
and procedures in support and protection of the registered ships, a systematic
approach to the establishment of merchant shipping security and administration
that provide confidence in shipping trade and understanding of the
international shipping community;

Establish a reliable statistical data for the
manning of flag ships and well coordinated training, examination and
certification of seafarer in Nigeria; strategic plan and implementation
procedures to ensure availability of cargo for interested indigenes; concern
for ships’ repair and husbandry; reasonable protectionism for national fleet in
operational procedures even when such requirements are not statutory or
institutionalized; reliable communications and assistance to fleet; all
entities concerning the carriage of national cargo should develop common
interest on the sustainable success of the policy.
Bello pointed out that such enabling environment
of national incentives would go a long way in fostering growth and development
of the indigenous fleet in Nigeria.

Bello disclosed that the Nigerian Fleet
Implementation Committee which he chairs, has so far identified zero import
duty on vessels, tonnage tax as among the incentives necessary for the growth
of indigenous fleet.
He added that the Committee is currently
discussing the need to abolish temporary importation permit, shipping sector
support fund of about -2%per annum/9%, waiver of export tariff for use of
Nigerian vessels and right of first refusal for National Carriers in the
procurement process for cargo.
Bello also said the Committee is discussing the
issuance of work permit only upon verification of unavailability of ratings or
officers, change of Nigeria’s crude oil policy, CAC to adopt FIRS’s zero duty
for ship finance registration and preferential berthing privileges.
He further disclosed that the Vice President,
Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has so far expressed delight at the prospect of the country
trying to find ways to return to international shipping and has directed the
NFIC and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) to review the
proposal and work out the details of incentives stating a holistic and credible
approach to address the issues and represent for consideration and approval.
With the directive from the VP, Bello said the
Committee has held meetings with the NIPC to work out the modalities for the
granting and implementation of incentives to achieve the development and
sustainability of the national fleet.
He said the Vice President equally charged his
Committee to identify partnerships, benefits and the role of the private sector
in achieving the Nigerian fleet project.

Chairman of the occasion, Capt. Emmanuel
Iheanacho described the incentives being sought by the National Fleet
Implementation Committee headed by Bello as what would turn around the nation’s
shipping industry.
Commending Bello for the depth of knowledge in his paper as
it covered a series of options available in indigenous fleet development,
however warned against government appointing the Chief Executive Officer (CEP)
in the case of public private partnership (PPP) leading to establishment of a
fleet company because of the experience of the Nigerian National Shipping Line
In its presentation, the League of Maritime Editors and
Publishers, also called for capacity building support in the nation’s maritime
media industry.

President of the League, Mr Kingsley Anaroke in
his welcome address on the occasion of seminar said the need for the support become
necessary as the maritime media, mainly publishers share the fate being
suffered by the Nigerian indigenous ship owners.
He said while the ship owners were currently suffering as a
result of lack of funds to acquire fleet, the maritime media publishers have
been faced with capacity development issues, including the resources needed for
investigative and developmental journalism.
According to him, so much is needed in undertaking research,
adding that the situation is worsened by lack of patronage by the agencies of
government in the sector.

Anaroke said that this is even worrisome since
maritime media is inundated with series of press releases being churned out by
the agencies and which are published.
He said, “The point being made here is that maritime media
publishers are critical stakeholders in the sector and should be treated as
such. With about 65 Magazines, newspapers and online independent publishers in
the sector, they have a combined workforce of over 255 members of staff with
almost zero advert patronage on the average monthly from the maritime agencies
and operators yet they have been adjudged as the most active in Africa.”
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Shippers Council
(NSC) , Sifax Group and Comet Shipping received corporate awards from the
League for their contributions in the industry.
Individual recipients of awards were the founder of the
National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Chief
Boniface Aniebonam ,and the former President of  the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs
Agent (ANLCA) , Prince Olayiwola Shittu.

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