Respite have come for indigenous shipowners, bunkerers to compete favourably with foreign counterparts as the Nigerian Maritime Administration Agency (NIMASA) has revealed it was engaging the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on provision of special interest rate for acquisition of maritime assets.
This was disclosed by the director-general of the agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, during the Maritime Stakeholders Interactive forum held in Calabar, Cross Rivers State. Peterside, who disclosed that the agency was engaging the apex bank to create a special interest rate for maritime assets acquisition in Nigeria stated that the agency was committed to opening new frontiers for potential investors in the sector.
Maritime stakeholders especially indigenous shipowners have repeatedly called on the federal government to introduce a special interest rate for acquisition of maritime assets in other to make local operators compete favourably with their foreign counterparts.
He noted that other industries such as the textile and manufacturing industry were already enjoying same arrangement with the CBN and that it would be beneficial for maritime to also enjoy same opportunity in order to grow Nigeria’s economy.
“We are committed to providing opportunities for investors through public and private partnership. This applies especially to investments in maritime infrastructure, shipping and ancillary services, offshore services, ship building repairs as well as marine and bunkering services.
“In this regard, we are engaging the Central Bank of Nigeria to create a special interest rate for maritime infrastructure development and maritime assets acquisition in Nigeria this is aside looking at the early disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds,” he said.
Speaking further, the Peterside said there were enormous potentials that remain untapped in the country’s maritime sector. He noted that the ports located in the eastern flank of the country comprising Calabar, Port-Harcourt and Onne hold the key to Nigeria’s economic development and that all hands must be on deck to ensure that the ports function optimally.
“For us to harness our maritime potentials, the ports in the eastern flank must be fully utilised. The eastern zone is the most critical because out of the 7 functional seaports in Nigeria 3 are domiciled in the eastern zone and it also harbors over 70 per cent of the 275 terminals that are in the country but unfortunately in terms of cargo reception there is no corresponding relationship between the facilities available and the reception of cargoes because the eastern zone accounted for less than 20 per cent of the vessels that visited the Nigerian ports in 2016 and 2017.”
Earlier in his address the chairman of the governing board of NIMASA, Maj. Gen Jonathan India Garba (rtd), said that the eastern zonal area has a lot to offer the Nigerian economy in terms of shipping. He added that all stakeholders should support the agency as it strives to create an enabling environment for maritime to thrive in Nigeria.
Managing director of Starz Marine Engineering, Greg Ogbeifun, who also spoke at the event commended the Peterside-led management on the sensitisation and awareness that the agency was creating to drive investors into the maritime sector.
On his part, a former executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Captain Adamu Biu, said that the government was not totally responsible for the previous stagnation of the maritime sector.
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