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Chilaka advises government to shred national fleet idea but encourage indigenous ship owners to thrive

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By Otunba Bright

A maritime expert, Dr. Edmund Chilaka, has called on the Federal Government to create enabling environment for indigenous ship owners to compete against their foreign counterparts.

He said that said there is no need for Nigeria to continue in the present quest to establish a national fleet, as the National Fleet Implementation Committee has been charged to do.

Chilaka stated this during his book presentation titled: “The Rise, Fall and Liquidation of Africa’s Pioneer Carriers: Nigerian National Shipping Line and Black Star Line,” last week, instead, the Federal Government should take policy measures to help indigenous ship owners to grow their tonnage and improve their practice of competitive sea trading.

Conversely, he said Nigeria belongs to the patently capitalist orientation of national life. In this type of societies, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are charaterised by bureaucratic tendencies and in the Third World countries; these are compounded by corruption, enthnoreligious nepotism, ineptitude and mismanagement of public assets.

 On the other hand, he said private sector enterprises tend to succeed based on the profit motive.

He added: “This can be seen in the successful enterprises built by Nigeria’s rich industrialists and traders, whether you talk of the Dangotes, the Madukas, or the Adenugas and countless others. The transportation and maritime shipping sector do not lack these men and women.

“What the Federal Government needs to do now is to quickly make the following policies: “implement the cargo reservation provisions in the NIMASA and Cabotage laws, whereby Federal and State government cargoes are reserved for pre-qualifies indigenous shipping lines.

“Restart the programme of technical and financial support to pre-qualified indigenous shipping lines to repair, retrofit, survey, and insure their ships for ocean and cabotage trade. Release the CVFF to qualified indigenous shipping operators; and desist from commercial operations that are outside the statutory mandate of the MDAs, such as the foray into a floating dry-dock,” he added.

He noted that these measures would empower indigenous operators to expand, excel, compete against foreign rivals and become dominant in the cabotage trade and subsequently, in regional and in the future, deep-sea shipping trade.

Speaking, Chairman of the book launch event, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho, who is the CEO of Genesis Worldwide Shipping, commended Dr. Chilaka for documenting such rich history of the events that shaped indigenous shipping operations through the Nigerian National Shipping Line, and the Black Stars lines in Nigeria and Ghana respectively.

He said information in the book could be a rich resource to guide investors and operators of shipping lines presently or in the future.

He said: “Out of this bad business of NNSL, we now have a historical record that people now and in the future can reference to, that if they venture into the business again, they have a good chance of achieving success.”

© 2021, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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