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Expert flays non-disbursement of $200m cabotage  

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Abiola Seun

A Former Executive Director, Maritime Safety and Shipping Development, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Ishaku Mabushi Shekarau has rued the non-disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF).

The former NIMASA boss in a paper titled “Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund: An Un-Utilized but Veritable Tool to Spring Maritime Economic Growth”, Shekarau expressed dismay over the poor implementation of the provisions of the Cabotage Act.

According to him, long delay in spite repeated promises by the authorities to do so over the years has made the maritime industry lag behind in what he called “this season of buoyancy” and other several reasons.

He also listed the non-attainment of 24 hours cargo clearance target at the nation’s seaports; vehicular congestion at most of the ports; non-competitive port charges in relation to our sub-region and the non-implementation of the CVFF as some of the ills plaguing the maritime sector of the economy.

He however called on the Federal Government to ensure that it addresses the disbursement of the CVFF before the end of the present administration.

His words: “I am persuaded (and I have good reason to believe that most maritime stakeholders share in this concern) that given the almost two decades span of Nigeria’s Cabotage Law and the humongous sums so far contributed by the operators in the name of CVFF, it is a major embarrassment that not a single ton has been added to indigenous shipping capacity via the financing of ships by this fund as intended.

” Abinitio, the underlining concern was that the Nigerian operators did not have cargoes to lift, even if they managed to secure platforms.
” This excuse is now anachronized by the fact that a good proportion of cargo in the petroleum industry inclusive of agro chemicals, construction, dairies, and so on is available for carriage by Nigerians”.
Shekarau, who is presently a maritime consultant, argued that besides the advantage of using the funds to purchase vessels or construct shipyards, it will directly or indirectly create employment opportunities and training opportunities for teeming Nigerians youths.
He wondered why the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) can sponsor agro dealers with money not contributed by them and yet maritime operators are denied their statutory right to borrow from funds contributed by them.
According to him, to what alternate purposes are the funds being applied and what is the relevance of this application to our national maritime development objectives?
He called on President Mohammadu Buhari, Minister of Transportation, Right Hon. Rotimi Amaechi and the management of NIMASA to recognize the CVFF as a specialized tool which should be applied only to its specific purpose.
He maintained that it would be a legacy of the present administration if it breaks the ice and disburse the CVFF justly and equitably to the desired beneficiaries

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