Ihenacho seeks review of NIMASA law, sustained shipping development
FORMER Minister of Interior, Capt. Emmanuel Ihenacho has called for the review of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) enabling law.
Speaking in Lagos, Ihenacho said NIMASA under the current structure couldn’t support shipping development in the country.
He accused the agency of concentrating more on revenue generation instead of supporting growth and development.
Ihenacho, who is also the Chairman, Integrated Oil and Gas, said the maritime industry has been static over the years, noting that “We have not made any progress at all and central to that lack of progress is the disappointment that operators had in regards to the agency that was supposed to midwife the growth and development in the industry”.
According to him, after about ten years of implementing the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2003, Nigeria as a nation has nothing to show for it.
He said more indigenous shipping companies are folding up while foreigners are thriving in contravention of the existing legislation.
Iheanacho said: “How many indigenous and foreign shipping companies has NIMASA registered since 2004 and to what extent has the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) been useful to Nigerian operators? I think somewhere along the line, politics intervened.”
According to him, NIMASA is not portrayed as a technical organization set up to ensure safety of shipping and cleaner seas.
The former Minister, who spoke on sundry issues said the agency wasn’t intended to be money making organisations like the Customs and Federal Inland Revenue Service.
He said: “That seems to be the emphasis now, not how many new ships we have been able to buy. How many operators have been empowered with money from the CVFF? All we saw was a proliferation of levies and militarization of NIMASA.
“There is need to revisit that NIMASA law to take out things not relevant to shipping development, running of a safe shipping and cleaner ocean environment.”
He said a country like Nigeria, with a diverse economy where people import all sorts of goods using different kinds of ships, including tanker vessels, container vessels, general cargo ships “need to talk about developing fleet that will match the diversity.
“NIMASA really ought to be concentrating on regulating the technical aspect of shipping. The law has to be revisited and the focus of the subject must be changed. NIMASA must be able to recast itself and move away from seeing itself as if it was the Customs or other revenue generating agencies.
“NIMASA was never intended to be any of the revenue agencies because sometimes one wondered that all the money that were collected – three percent levy, SASBF, Cabotage levy, sea protection levy and others – what have they done with it? Are we really aware that anyone has ever accessed any of these funds? Are there any additions in terms of tonnages?
“This is the industry that adds value to the oil that produces all the wealth that we enjoy. Without the addition of sea transport to the oil that is produced, the value of that oil is zero,” he added.