Amaechi Seeks Merger of Maritime Associations

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 Sandra Ukele

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has urged all trade groups and associations in the maritime sector to work together for development and growth of the industry. The minister, who made the call at a two-day workshop organised by the Maritime Correspondents Organisation Nigeria (MARCON) in Lagos, said it was inappropriate for similar maritime organisations performing related functions to exist separately when they could form a common body and work cohesively.

According to him, when such organisations merge or work closely, it would afford government agencies and departments the chance to disburse funds appropriately. He said   it would create accountability for leaders of these organisations who seek government assistance intermittently.

It is known that government parastatals under the Ministry of Transport fund projects conducted by maritime organisations and associations. But there is a proliferation of associations in the sector, hence the minister advised them to merge and work together.

The associations include those for ship owners:  Nigerian Indigenous Ship owners Association (NISA); Ship Owners Association Nigeria (SOAN); reporters: Maritime Correspondents of Nigeria (MARCON); Maritime Reporters Association Nigeria (MARAN) and the League.

Freight forwarding groups include Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF).

Speaking specifically on MARCON, MARAN and the League, Ameachi said they should  merge, adopt a common name, write a constitution that satisfies all and sundry and decide a leadership.  The minister is of the view that government would work better with a unified body rather than decimated bodies.

Also NISA has been directed to merge with SOAN. However, the inner rumblings among members with some alleging that other members of the group do not own ships. The bona fide ship owners claim some of its members only join the group to gain from the long awaited Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) administered by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
On the other hand, freight forwarders have been ordered to update their registration with the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders Nigeria (CRFFN).The CRFFN has a case pending in court.

The forwarders alleged the statutory fees collected by the regulator are illegal hence  they have taken the latter to court. The collections of fees have since been halted. Also, some licensed agents are of the opinion that the registrar of the CRFFN is an employee of the council. It is opined that the council has not been properly constituted and freight forwarders will not work with a council built on illegality.

The Federal Ministry of Transport Nigeria has the oversight function of the maritime industry. It has eight parastatals under its control. They are: NIMASA; Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA); Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC); Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC); Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA); Maritime Academy Nigeria (MAN); Nigerian Institute Transport Technology (NITT) and Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarders Nigeria (CRFFN).