FG to Disburse $124m CVFF to Nigerian Ship Owners in 2019

    • N50bn floating dockyard to save FG $1bn
    • $195m maritime security contract not cancelled

    Eromosele Abiodun

    Following relentless agitation by the Nigerian ship owners that the federal government disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) in line with set down regulations, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, wednesday said the agency would commence the disbursement in 2019.

    Peterside who stated this in a chat with journalists in Lagos State, said the fund, which has increased to $124 million (N44.64 billion) and domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), would be disbursed as soon as the Ministry of Transportation concludes the review of the guidelines for disbursement.

    Also, he said NIMASA has taken delivery of the N50 billion modular floating dockyard considered to be the fifth largest on the African continent.

    He said the Dockyard would save the federal government of Nigeria $100 million annually, amounting to $1billion in 10 years.

    According to him, this will be direct savings from the dry docking of vessels operating in Nigeria, which are mostly done outside the country.

    Similarly, he debunked reports that President Muhammadu Buhari has cancelled the $195 million maritime security contract awarded to an Israeli firm in 2017.

    The NIMASA boss said the Israeli firm was not contracted to take over Nigerian maritime security but to train Nigerian security personnel, acquire three helicopters, three aircrafts, three big battle-ready ships, 12 vessels and 20 amphibious cars to combat the menace of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

    Highlighting some of the agency’s achievements in the last two years, he said NIMASA has been able to establish a satellite surveillance control and command centre that has a coverage of up to 312 nautical miles from coast line (approximately 100 nautical miles off our EEZ).

    According to him, “the system can detect vessels with AIS transponders switched off as a synthetic aperture raider (SAR images which can be interrogated) immediately by near – point of sight patrol / enforcement boats. The Agency secured the reactivation of the maritime domain awareness capability.

    “This has enabled effective enforcement of regulations. Our surveillance system enables us to ensure the preservation of Cabotage Trade for indigenous operators by identifying and differentiating Ship-To-Ship (STS) operations that take place at the secured anchorage and offshore locations from Cabotage Trade to avoid foreign domination in Cabotage trade under the guise of STS.”

    He added that “in the last six months, a total of 1,685 tanker operations were captured by the Satellite Surveillance System. Of these operations, 284 were carried out at the anchorage area through lightering. Effectively, through surveillance guided enforcement operations, the 284 tankers that were lightened at the anchorage were hindered from participating in Cabotage Operations.

    “This has impacted positively on Cabotage trade creating room for more local participation. This was not the case in 2017 when we could not separate between anchorage operations and Cabotage trade with high likelihood of 532 international vessels proceeding on Cabotage trade after lightering operations at the anchorage. “

    Furthermore, he said the Nigerian Maritime Industry Forecast for 2018 and 2019 which is the first of its kind in the sector is intended to serve as a compass for local and international stakeholders willing to do business in the Nigeria maritime domain.

    “It is part of the initiatives of the current Management of NIMASA aimed at realizing a robust and virile maritime industry in Nigeria. The forecast period 2018-2019 covers a time of continuous recovery from recession, to the 2019 general elections and finally culminates in the post-election era. Also, the forecast intends to review developments in the Nigerian maritime Industry in 2017, expected international and local developments in policy and regulatory environment for the maritime sector in 2018 and 2019 and also emerging opportunities and challenges with implications for the Maritime Industry, “he said.