Critical stakeholders in the Maritime sector have expressed divergent views about the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari in the development of Nigeria’s maritime industry.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari clocks one year in his second term in office as President of the nation on May, 29.
Ship owner and shipping consultant, Otunba Sola Olatunji argued that the legal tool that would have advanced shipping in Nigeria has been grossly undermined by the government.
Olatunji thinks that the Cabotage law which gives priority to indigenous ship owners over foreigners is grossly violated and unutilized.
He stated that until such tool is put in place, shipping business would continue to be a shadow of what it should be in Nigeria.
Otunba Olatunji maintained that foreigners have been granted undue licence to trade in Nigerian waters thereby leaving the indigenous players irrelevant which according to him, is the bane of Shipping development in Nigeria.
He added that lip service is paid to disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) which would have availed the indigenous players the opportunity to purchase new vessels and remain in business.
In several reports, most indigenous ship owners have rub out of busy was due to lack of funds to continue even as others were heavily indebted and have died out of depression.
He said, “In my view , shipping hasn’t achieved any meaningful growth in the last 5 years because the law that would have naturally served as catalyst to the growth of the sector, Cabotage law has been continuously undermined by this government, therefore, until such a time the law is unveiled and implemented, shipping Development will continue to be a mirage .
“In summary, in the last 5 years, our waters have been dominated by foreign Shipowners who are availed waivers uncontrollably, thereby putting Local Shipowners out of business. As we speak today , so many Local Shipowners are bankrupt with some of them out of business etc.
“The CVFF hasn’t been disbursed several years after the law was put in place so no shipping Development can take place without effective implementation of CVFF .
“Finally, until CVFF fund is disbursed and Cabotage law implemented, shipping Development will continue to experience stunted growth,” he concluded.
Also.speaking, an expert in cargo clearing subsector, Chidi Anthony Opara believes that the subsector witnessed some remarkable push towards the last lap of the first term of Buhari’s administration.
Speaking further, the former member of Council For The Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN)’s Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum(FFCF) said the CRFFN Governing Council was inaugurated which according to him was a good move by the government.
In his scorecard, the freight forwarding subsector fared well with successful introduction of Practitioners Operating Fee.
His words, “In the last lap of President Buhari’s first term in office, specifically in 2018, there was a remarkable push to reposition the Freight Forwarding subsector.
“The hitherto comatose CRFFN Governing Council was reconstituted and inaugurated.
“Funding was reinvigorated and a major funding channel, the Practitioners Operating Fees (POF) was approved.
“The Freight Forwarding subsector in fact fared well from the last lap of President Buhari’s first term in office to the present day.
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