By Dapo Olawuni |
There are indications that the Cabotage Waiver Cessation which was recently announced by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) may have yielded a 33% increase in Cabotage vessel registration.
Following the increase, shipping expert and former Acting Director General, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, Bukola Lawal has called for creation of Maritime Desk at all commercial banks in Nigeria in order to assist indigenous shipowners in acquiring more ships.
In a report obtained by our correspondent, Lawal stressed the need for more practitioners to take full advantage of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act Amendment Bill.
He stressed that for financial institutions to effectively handle envisioned upsurge in loan facility requests sequel to increase in Cabotage vessel registration, there is need to build the capacity of the bank officials who will be designated to man the maritime desks.
Mr. Lawal argued that creation of a maritime desk across all banks would help in supporting the shipping activities especially on the aspect of vessel acquisition and ship building and repair yard, financing and refinance among others.
He also said that this training for bank officials is a function of the accredited Maritime Institutions.
Speaking, the shipping expert says “Now that we envisage the removal of waiver clause in the Cabotage Act, it is important that the CBN enforces creation of Maritime Desk in all commercial banks in the country”
“Financial Institutions have major roles to play with a robust relationship with the stakeholders. I recalled the agitation for a creation of Maritime Bank by the Industry Stakeholders years ago to seek effective service delivery from the commercial bank on shipping related requests and to fostering indigenous capacity. The great effort only brought about skeletal operations to handle marine related request within some commercial banks”
“Based on the Industry need; it is high time for the Apex Bank to enforce the creation of maritime desk within all commercial banks. This will enable the Financial Institutions to effectively handle envisioned upsurge request sequel to removal of the waiver clause in the Cabotage Act. To that effect, building the capacity of the bank officials who will be designated to manning the desk is a function of the accredited Maritime Institutions”
“It is therefore, on this premise that qualitative education and technical skills of this category of stakeholders would be assured. Banking experience alone is not enough to deliver” he said
Mr. Lawal further advised that CBN while structuring a credit facility scheme to support the shipping sector should come up with a single digit interest on loans, saying that foreign operators were encouraged by their various countries with access to single-digit interest rate fund to take advantage over the indigenous operators.
He equally advised the indigenous operators not to be too eager in signing credit facility without detailed understanding in order to steer clear of avoidable consequences.
Speaking further, he said “Training Institutes like Nigerian Maritime Academy, Oron in Akwa Ibom State, Institute of Shipbrokers, Chartered Institute Logistics and Transport, Universities domiciled with Maritime Department and a host of others are expected to address the training need of the financial institutions”
“Government through her concerned Agencies should also critically x-ray the guiding principle on commercial, operational and regulatory with regards to the contemporary issues in the shipping development and to commercialize all the activities in the water to boost the revenue and improve contribution of the sector into National economic growth”
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