By Eromosele Abiodun
Group Executive Vice Chairman of SIFAX Group, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, has urged the federal government to put processes in place for the implementation of the Nigerian Cabotage Law.
He said the non-implementation of the law has negatively affected the capacity of the maritime industry and its practitioners to maximally contribute to the nation’s economic growth.
Speaking in an interview with The Director, the magazine of the Institute of Directors (IoD), Afolabi explained that the Cabotage law was designed to primarily deepen the participation of Nigerian maritime practitioners in the international maritime business and give them more stakes in the local maritime industry.
He highlighted that the law makes provisions for domestically owned and Nigerian registered vessels to have exclusive opportunity of engaging in the domestic coastal carriage of cargo and passengers within the coastal territorial inland waters of Nigeria which is presently not a reality in the maritime sector and making the Nigerian economy lose out greatly.
He noted that the law contained vital sections that aim at empowering Nigerians to achieve more in the maritime sector, thereby adding more revenue to the economy.
Speaking specifically on a critical portion of the law, Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund, the SIFAX Group boss said: “The fund came into being with the promulgation of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act in 2003. It was included in the law that the fund would be derived from two percent deductions of every contract awarded and the funds would be used to help grow the capacity of the indigenous ship owners and also provide financial assistance to Nigerian operators in the domestic coastal shipping in order to acquire vessels. However in reality, a lot of problems have bedeviled the implementation of the law.”
He appealed to the federal government, through the relevant agencies, to take a second look at the law and expedite action on its implementation for the benefit of the industry and the country’s economy.