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Ship-owner seeks clear modalities for accessing vessel financing fund

Chairman Sea Transport Nigeria Ltd., Alhaji Aminu Umar, wants very clear modalities for accessing the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) that has just been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, for disbursement to genuine indigenous ship-owners.

Umar spoke on the side lines of the flag-off ceremony of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) Terra ll, initiated by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), aimed at developing seafarer manpower for the maritime industry.

He expressed confidence that properly-structured modalities would encourage prospective ship owners and boost ship-owning capability.

His words: “Our expectation as ship owners is that it should have modalities on how to access the fund should be put in place like the DG promised, so that all potential ship-owners who intend to access the fund should have easy access to the fund.”

He said that with the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement in place, there would be increased cargo movement within the African continent, with great prospects for shipping business in Nigeria.

He said that the demand for off-takers as requirement for accessing the CVFF would properly situate cargo at the heart of shipping, where it indeed belongs.

“It has been a good year for shipping business in the whole world, and I believe that you will see it on many media publications. If you look at the outlook for West Africa, with the AfCFTA being signed, there is the access for cargo; intra-Africa cargo movement; A lot of cargo coming out of Nigeria to other West African countries.

“Nigerians have started commodities export very well, which means there is cargo. All these cargoes coming in and out of Nigeria require ships. So, there is huge demand for shipping. It simply means that the outlook is good,” he said.

Talking about where the cargoes are, to encourage business sustainability, Alh. Umar said there are multiple areas in need for shipping, against thoughts that it is only with contracts given by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Ltd.

“There are many different areas of shipping. It is not restricted to one sector only. Shipping has different segments; they are people who are doing offshore services, those who load dry cargo, bulk cargo carriers and those who load oil, and they are not in offshore services.

“It is not restricted to people who get contract from NNPC or Shell or Chevron. There are container movers, who move containers within West African Region. I believe those ones would be able to show the business case and they would be able to access it,” he said.

Sharing his thoughts, Umar said the idea behind ‘National fleet’ is to increase the capacity of Nigerians to own more vessels, which was what a Ministerial Committee that reviewed the discussion submitted.

“The Minister is saying what his predecessor already said. The committee that was inaugurated then was to put together modalities to develop Nigerian shipping industry, which means that there should be more ships owned by Nigerians, and no intention in whatever way, to make a national carrier . There is a difference between national carrier and national shipping line and then national fleet,” Umar said.



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