The minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Friday said the ministry of finance was frustrating the disbursement of the $200million Cabotage Vessels Finance Fund (CVFF).
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), had in March this year, said it received the approval of president Muhammadu Buhari to disburse the CVFF to qualified indigenous maritime operators in line with the treasury single account (TSA) policy and the CVFF guidelines of 2006.
However, the agency is yet to apply the over $200 million fund to acquire vessels for local ship owners who have been struggling to survive due to inadequate funds to run their business.
Speaking at the 2020 federal ministry of transportation ministerial retreat in Lagos, Amaechi said president Muhammadu Buhari and the attorney general of the federation, Abubakar Malami, have approved the disbursement of the fund but the minister of finance, Zainab Ahmed, protested against the disbursement, saying, it is a public fund and shouldn’t be disbursed to private operators.
He, however, advised ship owners to write a protest letter to the president seeking the disbursement of the fund and explain why the fund is a private fund.
“The owners of the fund should write to the president and copy me, and then I will go back to the president. The law says it is not a public fund, now that they are aware they should write to say we are aware of the approval, and we are aware of the protest by the minister of finance and if I have all these, I will go back to the president,” the minister said.
He maintained that with the commissioning of the Deep Blue Project, vessels that were unable to visit the eastern ports can now do so without fear of attacks.
“I said we will address the issue of security in the maritime sector because the reasons why vessels are not able to go to Port-Harcourt, Warri and other places is because of the high cost of insurance.
“High cost of insurance is a result of insecurity, so if we address the issue of insecurity which is the root cause, then the high cost of insurance will reduce and more businesses will go to the South-south where we have other seaports.
“Since we launched the equipment for the security architecture, we are now monitoring improvement and this is going to reduce because we have equipment and human beings managing them,” he assured.
Also speaking, the director general, NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, said the agency was doing everything possible to put the floating dockyard into use.
According to him, the quay to berth the floating dock at Continental shipyard is weak, rusty and old hence the need for rehabilitation.
“In summary, we are just trying to see how we can effectively and safely get a place where we can berth the floating dock and commence operations but, every other thing about the floating dock is complete except where to berth the vessel,” he explained.