The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate the low implementation level of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act, 2003, leading to the loss of $100 billion annually.
The Act restricts the use of foreign vessels in domestic coastal trade to promote the development of indigenous tonnage and establish a vessel financing fund.
It was also introduced to stimulate, empower and reposition indigenous shipping companies for active participation in the Sub-Saharan shipping activities.
The House’s decision to probe the poor implementation of law followed the adoption of a motion moved by Hon. Awaji- Inombek Abiante (PDP, Rivers) at plenary on Tuesday.
Moving the motion, Abiante said, the main objective of the Act was to protect indigenous shipping companies, create economic and employment opportunities for Nigerians in the Maritime sector.
The lawmaker observed that after 20 years of the enactment of the law, the shipping trade is still dominated by foreign-owned vessels.
He said in June at the International Maritime Organisation Day of the Seafarers celebration, the Joint Body of the Seafarer’s Professional Groups (NSPG) said, “the nation’s maritime industry is losing $100 billion annually due to the inability of the federal government to implement the Cabotage Act.”
Abiante said at the same event, the Secretary General of the Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria, Captain Alfred Oniye informed the audience that “most of the jobs that are supposed to be handled by Nigerian Seafarers are being occupied by foreigners, thus rendering 80 per cent of Nigerian Seafarers jobless.
“He (Oniye) said further that if the Cabotage Act is fully implemented, it will create thousands of jobs for Nigerians because ships would be built locally and owned by Nigerians.”
Abiante expressed worry that due to the very low implementation of the Cabotage Act by Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited and others that are involved in maritime activities, the nation’s economy and job creation are being seriously threatened.
Adopting the motion, the House mandated the relevant
Committee to investigate the low implementation of the Cabotage Act and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.