• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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NNPC needs to provide contracting tonnages for Nigerians to invest in vessels – stakeholders

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For Nigerian ship owners to compete favourably with its foreign counterparts, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporations (NNPC), must provide the contracting tonnages that would enable Nigerian operators to invest in vessel acquisition, stakeholders have said.

To them, NNPC, which is the biggest employer of marine assets in Africa, can be an enabler by providing those contracts of carriage that would make vessel acquisition a more bankable investment in Nigeria.

Speaking with newsmen, at the maiden edition of the Lagos International Shipping Expo organised by the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) in Lagos recently, with the theme: “Shipping, Global Economy and National Development,” Mina Oforiokuma, member, Governing Council, Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board (NCDMB), said these marine assets feed the import of petroleum products into Nigeria and services the export of petroleum products.

Oforiokuma, who spoke on what Nigeria needs to do to increase the number indigenous players in its shipping sector, stated that opportunities in the Direct Sales and Direct Purchase (DSDP) of Crude oil contract especially importation of refined products, can be reserved for Nigerians.

According to him, if Nigerians have the technical capability to run the kind of vessels needed by International Oil Companies (IOCs), those IOCs can give contracts to Nigerians to perform on their cargoes, and “with those contracts, Nigerian ship owners can go to the bank to get the fund that would enable them to buy vessels.”

“Government has a great role to play especially in creating an enabling environment for private investors to come into the maritime sector. However, the amount of vessels owned by Nigerians has actually increased and our tonnage capacity has also grown in both the downstream and upstream sectors,” he said.

Oforiokuma stated that Nigeria also needs to look at in-country technical capacities and capabilities in managing maritime assets because Nigeria has the greatest amount of marine assets operating on her territorial waters.

Earlier in his presentation, Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation, said boosting indigenous ship ownership would enable Nigeria to compete favourably in the international scene.

Amaechi, who was represented by Grace Atiegoba, director, Reform, Coordination and Service Improvement, said the Federal Government is aware of the challenges in the industry and working to ameliorate them.

According to him, government is also eager about marine notice as it provides important issues on safety, general guidance to shipping and marine communities.

He further stated that the government was concerned about the non-disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds (CVFF), poor infrastructure and poor maritime institutions in the country.

Also, Gbemisola Saraki, Minister of State for Transportation, who was represented by Bola Muse, president of Women in Maritime Africa (WIMAfrica) said maritime, is the backbone of global trade.

She said that the jobs and livelihood of billions of people in the developing world and the standard of living in the industrialised world depend on shipping.

Saraki further stated that shipping is critical to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Mkgeorge Onyung, President, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) said that indigenous shipping operators need to acquire more ships to become competitive in the global shipping trade.

He said that acquiring more Nigerian owned vessels would enable ship owners to unlock the economic prosperity of Nigeria and to create thousands of new jobs. He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to assist Nigerians by creating enabling business environment and provision of the finance needed to acquire more ships