Peterside: Nigeria Needs New National Fleet


  Says cabotage fund hits N30.7bn

The Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside, has said a national carrier is being developed with a view to boosting freight haulage and creating job opportunities.

Peterside disclosed this at a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) forum in Abuja.

It would be recalled that a Committee for the Actualisation of the National Carrier was set up by the Ministry of Transportation.

Pacific International Lines (PIL), a Singaporean company, is expected to own 40 per cent of the stake, private Nigerian ship operators are expected to own the other 60 per cent.

“National Carrier is indeed a status conferred on a shipping line by a country. In our case, the law says on the recommendation of NIMASA to the Minister of Transport, you can be designated a National Carrier and what distinguishes a National Carrier from others is the set of incentives you enjoy when get designated a national carrier.

“So, what actually we are developing is a Nigeria Flag National Fleet and in this particular instance, the model that we are working on is for private investors to bring their funds and the Federal Ministry of Transportation is a facilitator of the Nigerian fleet or the Nigerian owned National fleet or indigenous fleet.

“In our case, we have identified a core investor, Pacific International Line as core investor of the proposed National Fleet.

“Why are we in the business of National Fleet?  Because it comes with a lot of advantages that nobody can ignore. The first and most important one is that it provides opportunity for people who are skilled to be employed.

“It provides opportunity for our people to receive requisite training. It also enhances revenue that we earn through the maritime sector.

“So those are some of the advantages aside from National pride that we convey most of our cargo, is also an advantage.’’

Peterside said the agency was also working on a set of incentives that would make it attractive for people to invest in the indigenous shipping line.

Before now, there was the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL).

NNSL was liquidated in September, 1995 and its assets were assumed by the newly formed National Unity Line (NUL).

The NUL, fully owned by the Nigeria Maritime Authority (NMA), began commercial operations in July, 1996 as Nigeria’s national flag carrier. with just one ship, MV Abuja.

In August 2005, the government put the NUL up for sale.

The high cost of maintaining the vessels as well and poor management were reasons for the collapse of the NNSL and NUL.

Peterside said that the agency had learnt from past mistakes, thus the collobaration with a foreign private shipping company for efficient supervision of the line.

He also disclosed that NIMASA had concluded necessary documentation needed for the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), currently estimated at more than $100 million (N30.7billionn).

Peterside said  the fund came into being with the promulgation of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003.

The fund, derived from two per cent deductions from every contract awarded, was meant to help grow the capacity of indigenous ship owners’ intention and also provide the needed capital for them to acquire vessels.

“Now the minister has made regulations but with benefit of hindsight, we are looking at the regulations again. You will recall that there was a ship acquisition and ship building fund which is a precursory to the Cabotage fund.

Peterside also urged law enforcement agencies to live up to their responsibilities to reduce the rate of crime in the country.

Commenting on the recent parliamentary re-run elections in Rivers State, he cited the case of six policemen who allegedly conducted themselves in manner that was unacceptable and were dismissed

Peterside said the state government also had a role to play in ensuring that people in politics conducted themselves in an acceptable manner.

According to him, if any state government by its conduct shows that it tolerates crime, it supports crime, it encourages crime, it promotes crime, then crime will thrive on such a soil.

He explained that if a governor and the government conducted themselves in such a way that it showed that they had zero tolerance for crime, nobody would commit crime.

Peterside further said that another reason people engaged in crime was because of the benefits which other people got when they committed crimes.

“Now when people benefit from crime and earn political offices, earn victory they do not deserve, then other people will believe that is the right route to pass.

“If you go and kill several persons and you are made commissioner, you are made governor, you are made senator, it is incentive for more persons to get involved in crime and political violence.

“But if you are denied that opportunity on the grounds of political violence, then fewer persons will have it as incentive; it will rather be a disincentive for people.

“So ultimately, government must play a role at all levels whether at the local level, at the state level, at the federal level; all of us must play a role,’’ he said.

The NIMASA boss said that the political gladiators and political leaders themselves also owed a duty to their followers to act right.

“Their body language, the way they conduct themselves, the way they make speeches influence what they do.

“And so if those of us who are political leaders conduct ourselves in a decent manner, with decorum, then our followers will fall in line.”