From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
Convinced that shipping significantly defines the growth trajectory of any nation, especially as regards seaborne commerce, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) says it is ready to partner with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) on a new national shipping line.
Speaking during the visit of the BPE Director-General, Mr. Alex Okoh, to the agency in Lagos, the NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, noted that the greatest asset in the maritime space is the vessel, adding that without it, one will “only be a major player in name but in reality not get maximum benefit from trade.”
Nevertheless, he stressed that the only way to guarantee the efficiency and effectiveness of shipping and add value to the economy is through the involvement of the private sector, according to a statement by the NIMASA Head of Corporate Communications, Mr. Isichei Osamgbi.
To that end, Peterside said the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, has initiated a process for private sector players to join resources for a national fleet, and inaugurated the National Fleet Implementation Committee, headed by the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mr. Hassan Bello, who is working closely to with the agency.
According to Peterside, the ministry’s wants to drive the refloating of the national fleet with core investors owning 49 per cent of the shares while Nigerian ship owners own 51 per cent; and the firm will also be given the national career status.
“We are looking at different models, hence the importance of this engagement, so that we can review what has happened over time and choose the best model.”
Okoh had stressed that businesses are better managed by the private sector, while the government has very little to do beyond creating an enabling environment for businesses to strive. Therefore, he stated the agency’s willingness to partner NIMASA and the private sector in that quest.
He further urged NIMASA to take a common position with the BPE in realising its privatisation mandate, which will be forwarded to the National Council on Privatisation as the strategic way to handle the enterprise, adding: “We have looked at the Nigerian unity line and their only tangible asset is the operating license.
“The license confers on the enterprise certain privileges, deriving from the Cabotage Act and also from the Local Content policy. This can be the foundation for the building block of a virile shipping business in Nigeria.”