By Stephen Ubanna
Dakuku Peterside, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration
He has his reason to pursue such an agenda. This is because the country could generate enough cargoes for the shipping line which are currently being carried by shipping companies from other countries in Europe , North America and the Asian country of China.
Maritime watchers believe that the NIMASA Director General became enthusiastic that the country should own a shipping line going by what he saw at the Asian country of Norway, where he had attended the NOR shipping line event which attracted shipping magnates and chief Executives of Multi-national shipping Companies all over the world including the United States.
The Nigerian Maritime Regulatory Agency was said to have used the opportunity provided by NOR, the Noway gian Shipping Line, meeting in Osolo, Norway, , to interact with other maritime Administrators from other parts of the world that have nurtured a thriving and profitable shipping lines, particular, Norway, and how the strategies employed could be domesticated in Nigeria.
Note that the country at one time had the Nigerian National Shipping Line, NNSL, which was bedeviled by lot challenges and finally liquidated by late General Sani Abacha in 1995. The then Nigerian Maritime Authority, NMA,now, baptised NIMASA, had floated National Unity Line, NUL, which replaced the defunct NNSL, as the National Carrier. It died without making any appreciable impact in the shipping business, which is an international business.
The NIMASA boss may have seen the joy of a country owning a viable shipping line that he is wooing stakeholders in the nation’s shipping sector to take the lead of establishing a national shipping line that would compete with the multi-national shipping companies in lifting the wet cargo currently generated in the country.
Note that the muti-national Oil Exploration and Producing had turned their back on the indigenous shipping from lifting the wet on the ground that they do not have the capacity and financial muscle to engage in such a capital intensive International business.
Peterside, the NIMASA, boss is optimistic that Nigerians will be able to” lift the country’s crude oil for export immediately the new national fleet comes into operation”. An elated Rivers state born politician, said ”it will end the capital flight associated with the present arrangement where Nigeria sells wet cargo on Free on board, FOB, basis, to consumers”, adding that it will lead to employment creation .
Given an insider information on the share arrangement of the national fleet will be owned 49 percent by a technical partner and 51 percent will be owned by Nigerian investors, an indication that there will be no domineering shareholder. This may have been informed the reason why he said the national fleet will be private sector led sustanability and profitability.
Describing the national
He assured the investors that they have no reason to worry as the country is also ”making its maritime security serious and has invested in the acquisition of security assets to boost the policing of the nation’s water ways. The security assets, he said include patrol boats, special mission aircrafts, helicopters, unmanned air vessels and special ships.
According to him,” the assets acquired under the Deep Blue Project , tagged the a homeland security solution, will become operational by September this year with a standing specially trained intervention strike force. This is bad news for pirates operating in Nigerian water Ways and the Gulf of Guinea.
Perhaps to encourage both Nigerian and foreigners to invest in the new national Carrier, he said the government has incentivised the sector with offers of tax holidays and institutional support. He was said to have told foreign investors who have declared interest on the newly conceived national Carrier that the country accounts for over 70 percent of the seaborne trade in the West and Central African sub-region.
He may have told them that they have no cause to worry as the two regions are endowed with a skilled workforce just as it is the world’s night largest hydrocarbon deposits . The NIMASA boss may have gladdened the heart of the potential foreign investors when he revealed that that the government is also focusing on ”implementing reforms to enhance doing business in the country.
It is not surprising why maritime watchers are optimistic that with the strategies put in place by the NIMASA boss and his management team to facilitate the launching of the new national carrier, it would be a huge success as it is going to be private-sector driven.
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