Nigerian ship owners under the aegis of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) said in Lagos on Wednesday that indigenous shipping operators need to acquire more ships to become globally competitive in the shipping trade.
To SOAN, acquiring more Nigerian owned vessels would enable ship owners to unlock economic prosperity of Nigeria and to create thousands of new jobs.
Speaking at the first Lagos International Shipping Expo with the theme: ‘Shipping, Global Economy and National Development,’ Mkgeorge Onyung, SOAN President called on President Muhammadu Buhari to assist Nigerian ship owners in creating enabling business environment and finances needed to acquire more ships.
“If there is no shipping, there is no shopping, which is why there is connect between shipping and national development. Of course, shipping controls 90 percent of the global economy. Seafarers are the most important workers on earth as declared by the United Nations, and we ship owners, we value them because their future lies in the development of Nigerian shipping industry,” he said.
On the importance of the conference, Onyung said SOAN organised the event in order to speak in one voice so that government and its agencies that regulates shipping business can hear the voice of ship owners and proffer solutions to the challenges facing indigenous ship owners.
Legor Idagbo, chairman, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Committee (House of Representatives) commended SOAN for organising the extraordinary event, which showcases the pivotal role of the shipping value chain not just in Nigeria’s economy but in the global trade as a whole.
He said the National Assembly shares a special bond with the maritime industry because both are partners in progress. He further said that event was held on the eve of major upcoming legislative interventions that include the amendment of the Nigerian Content Act, the Finance Bill 2019 and the Petroleum Industry Bill.
“The real story of the Cabotage Act 2003 and the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Act 2010, is that the two legislation demonstrate how committed Nigerians in the maritime industry can take advantage of these legislation to successfully transform the industry into a multidimensional enabler that can actively support several critical sectors of the economy and employ thousands of Nigerians,” he said.
He said a lot more needs to be done to incentivise local investments in the Nigerian shipping sector.