By Nse Anthony-Uko
(Sundiata Post) — Respite have come for indigenous shipowners to compete favourably with foreign counterparts as the Nigerian Maritime Administration Agency (NIMASA) has revealed it is engaging the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on provision of special interest rate for acquisition of maritime assets.
Peterside who disclosed that the agency is engaging the apex bank to create a special interest rate for maritime assets acquisition in Nigeria stated that the agency is committed to opening new frontiers for potential investors in the sector.
Recall that maritime stakeholders’ especially indigenous shipowners have repeatedly called on the Federal government to introduce a special interest rate for acquisition of maritime assets in other to make local operators compete favourably with their foreign counterparts.
He noted that other industries such as the textile and manufacturing industry are already enjoying same arrangement with the CBN and that it would be beneficial for maritime to also enjoy same opportunity in order to grow Nigeria’s economy.
“We are committed to providing opportunities for investors through public and private partnership. This applies especially to investments in maritime infrastructure, shipping and ancillary services, offshore services, ship building repairs as well as marine and bunkering services.
In this regard, we are engaging the Central Bank of Nigeria to create a special interest rate for maritime infrastructure development and maritime assets acquisition in Nigeria this is aside looking at the early disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds”. He said.
Speaking further, the Peterside said there are enormous potentials that remain untapped in the country’s maritime sector. He noted that the Ports located in the Eastern flank of the country comprising of Calabar,
Port-Harcourt and Onne holds a key to Nigeria’s economic development and that all hands must be on deck to ensure that the Ports function optimally.
“For us to harness our maritime potentials, the ports in the Eastern flank must be fully utilized. The eastern zone is the most critical because out of the 7 functional seaports in Nigeria 3 are domiciled in the eastern zone and it also harbors over 70 per cent of the 275 terminals that are in the country but unfortunately in terms of cargo reception there is no corresponding relationship between the facilities available and the reception of cargoes because the eastern zone accounted for less than 20 per cent of the vessels that visited the Nigerian ports in 2016 and 2017.
According to him, the available statistics shows that there is need for serious collaboration with stakeholders in the sector to ensure that the environment is made conducive enough for continuous growth that is premised on sustainable development devoid of threats such as piracy and other maritime crimes.
Earlier in his address the chairman of the Governing Board of NIMASA, Maj. Gen Jonathan India Garba said that the eastern zonal area has a lot to offer the Nigerian economy in terms of shipping. He added that all Stakeholders should support the Agency as it strives to create an enabling environment for maritime to thrive in Nigeria.
Managing director of Starz Marine Engineer Greg Ogbeifun who also spoke at the event commended the Dr. Dakuku Peterside led Management on the sensitization and awareness that the agency is creating to drive investors into the maritime sector.
On his part, a former executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council Captain Adamu Biu said that the government is not totally responsible for the previous stagnation of the maritime sector. He said that it is time for stakeholders to support NIMASA to bring the much needed development to the Maritime sector.
Secretary-general of the Abuja MoU Barrister Mfon Usoro who was the lead speaker delivered a paper titled “Harnessing Maritime Potentials in an Untapped Environment: Opportunities, Threats and the Role of Government”.