From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
Implementation of the five-year cabotage waiver cessation plan to discourage foreign dominance has encouraged vessel owners to employ many Nigerians, with more already in the process of being engaged in the various sub-sectors of the nation’s maritime industry, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has said.
Making this disclosure in Lagos during the agency’s interaction with media executives, NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said the agency, through the New Cabotage Compliance Strategy, has in the last six months created over 7,000 jobs in manning, crewing, stevedoring and dockworkers engagement.
Noting the industry’s huge potential for more jobs and the capacity to spur economic growth, he observed that “the political will to deal with the issue of waivers in the cabotage regime had been the challenge in the past.
However, “our pronouncement and implementation of the New Cabotage Compliance Strategy has led to the engagement of over 7,000 Nigerians in various sub-sectors within the industry. This has also resulted in 32 per cent increase in vessels operating under the Cabotage regime in the first two quarters of 2019.”
Similarly, he disclosed that NIMASA has improved issuance of sailing clearance to vessels calling at the ports from about seven days before he assumed office to less than 24 hours presently, thereby increasing vessel turnaround time.
According to Peterside, the agency had inspected and surveyed over 600 vessels calling at the ports as part of its port state and flag state responsibilities, while increased inspection and survey has stopped sub-standard vessels from calling at the ports, thereby also improving safety on Nigerian waters.
Lamenting the challenge of maritime insecurity, he hoped for a quick assent to the NIMASA-sponsored anti-piracy bill, which was already passed by the immediate past National Assembly, to help tame piracy and other maritime crimes, and open up more opportunities in the sector.
“The issue of maritime crime has been challenging, not only to us as a nation but also the entire Gulf of Guinea,” he noted. “To achieve a safe and secure maritime environment that will guarantee the president’s pronouncement (on job creation), commitment is critical and we at NIMASA have decided to drive the process.”
He disclosed that as part of that strategy, the world would be coming to Nigeria in October to brainstorm on ways of collectively tackling maritime insecurity, which will advance the growth and development of the sector to the benefit of the country and Africa at large.