• Saturday, July 20, 2024
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NIMASA set to disburse $150m cabotage fund to boost shipping capacity, job creation

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on Tuesday said that it will soon commence the disbursement of the over $150 million Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF).

CVFF is a fund set aside by the Federal Government to build shipping capacity in the nation’s maritime sector and enable indigenous ship owners to get local seaborne jobs. The fund, which is in the custody of NIMASA, has not been disbursed years after it was set up and it has accumulated over $150 million.

Speaking with newsmen in Port Harcourt after the 2013 day seafarers’ celebration, Calistus Obi, executive director, maritime labour and cabotage services of NIMASA, said that six shipping companies have been selected as first batch of beneficiaries of the CVFF.

He noted that the agency has in conjunction with the primary lending institutions (banks) done all the necessary preliminaries to facilitate the disbursement of the fund.

“The papers which are currently awaiting presidential approval for the disbursement to commence has been duly studied and approved by the Federal Ministry of Transport”.

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According to him, each of the six companies will be given the sum of $25 million to acquire vessel. Here, each of the company is to pay 15 percent of the total sum; banks to pay 35 percent while NIMASA is to pay the remaining 50 percent.

The aim, he said, is to build shipping capacity, create multiple cabotage and seaborne trade for ship owners to enable them create employment for Nigerian seafarers, who are currently facing limited job opportunities and hard working conditions in an oil rich country like Nigeria.

On other efforts of NIMASA to build local capacity, he said, “The contract for the indigenous ship repair has been awarded and the papers have also been signed but due process has to be followed. Nigerians will see acceleration of this in next couple of weeks”.

Due to the conditions attached to the disbursement of the fund, he said that the agency on compassionate ground selected some vessels for repair which, according to BusinessDay findings, were about 21 companies. “We are test-running it and if the process works, it will become continuous”.

In his good will message, Julius Efokpor, secretary general of Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association, who bemoaned the capital flight which Nigerian economy and employment market have experienced due to the situation whereby Nigerian seafaring jobs are given to foreigners, disclosed that the Certificate of Competence (COC) issued by NIMASA is not currently acceptable by international oil companies (IOCs).

Efokpor, who represented the president of the association, urged the agency to upgrade the curriculum of all the maritime academies in the country to be in line with the standards of International Maritime Organisation (IMO), so that cadets graduating from these academies will be employed as qualified seafarers.

Reacting to this, the NIMASA boss said that the agency is seeking approval from any of the European Union states for affiliation right with Nigeria, and this, he said, will raise Nigeria’s COCs.