The lack of legislative implementation of policies for the development of indigenous operation/capacity and employment generation in the country by government agencies has adversely affected the growth of the maritime sector, which encourages multinationals to dominate Nigeria’s maritime trade.

These were the submissions of the National President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, in a letter to the House of Representatives Committee on Marine Safety, Education and Administration on the bill to review the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act 2021.

The letter was tagged: “The Generation of Mass Employment Through the Proper Implementation of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act 2007, Cabotage Act of 2003 and Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act of 2010.”

Amiwero lamented that since the enactment of the three legislative instruments, meant for the development of indigenous capacity in the maritime sector, there is no visible implementable activity in line with the provision of the acts.

He said Nigeria is yet to find its feet due to the complete absence of developmental strategy as contained in the various Acts, which is to trigger the activities of indigenous operators and generate employment.

He noted that Nigeria as a maritime nation, needs to speedily develop organisational architecture and responsibility to ensure the continued growth of the nation’s economy in an increasing, dangerous and competitive environment.

Amiwero said the springboard of any successful maritime operation globally, depends on the proper implementation of the following: cargo reservation policy, ncentives/subsidies, domestic trade restriction policy (cabotage), shipyard and shipbuilding, fleet expansion programme, maritime infrastructure development and capacity building initiatives, all contained in the Act.

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He said the Act mandates NIMASA to develop and implement policies and programmes that will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ship and maritime infrastructures.

Pointing at the cargo reserved policy and carriage right for Nigerian operators, Amiwero said NIMASA should developed and facilitate national carriers status for the expansion of fleet for the carriage of shared cargo based on the act.

He said despite the act stipulating the exclusive right of national carrier for the carriage of export and import cargo belonging to the federal government including federal and state owned companies and agencies, foreigners have taken over the Nigerian maritime space.

He said NIMASA should also initiate the carriage of bulk and liquid cargo to empower the indigenous operators reference to the statute.

Amiwero stated that the agency must work out the modalities for the proper implementation of the Nigeria flagged vessel 50 per cent cargo sharing ratio to galvanise and kick start the participation of indigenous operators in conjunction with the Federal government’s technical assistant policy as contained in the law.

He added that the carriage of crude and petroleum product to and from Nigeria must also be implemented to build capacity and generate employment as contained in the law.

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He further called for the review and removal of the waiver clause of the cabotage in section 9,10 11, 12 and 13, to help build capacity and generate employment for Nigerians.

Amiwero said the waiver reduces the participation of indigenous operators in the cabotage activities and allows the continuous domination by foreign operators in the nation’s waterborne commerce.

Amiwero further lamented that the continued existence of the waiver clause in the act will lead to the domination of freight component by foreign operators and capital flight of huge transfer of foreign exchange out of the country due.

Other implications according to Amiwero are, lack of employment of Nigerian operators due to non-participation of indigenous operators, lack of ownership of maritime infrastructure by indigenous operators as a result of non-operation and lack of skill due to the continued use of the foreign operators.

He said the development of the nation’s maritime industry in order to increase the country’s participation in maritime trade requires proper funding mechanism as stated in the various Acts.

Amiwero said the Maritime Fund, which was established in the act, is aimed at promoting the development of indigenous shipping and shipping infrastructure in Nigeria.

He, however, added that the provision of section 16-(2)(a) of the act authorised the allocation of 25 per cent of the total revenue generated by NIMASA to be used for the Maritime Fund.