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Amaechi denies hands in waivers to foreign vessels

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has denied hands in the issuance of waivers to foreign vessels operating on Nigerian coastal waters.

He stated this on Thursday when he appeared before the Senator Teslim Folarin-led Committee on Local Content while reacting to allegations of arbitrary issuance of waivers to foreign vessels operators.

The committee is investigating the breech of Nigerian Laws by foreign vessels in coastal shipping of petroleum products in downstream sector of the Nigerian Maritime Industry.

He said, “I do not even know until recently that I have to issue a waiver. For me to know as a minister the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, is supposed to write to me to request for an approval.

“As of now, no request for an approval is on my table or that has been on my table since 2015 till today.”

Amaechi also denied knowledge of any record in the ministry that waivers had been granted before.

He said, “I have not checked that information. I have to confirm that by asking the Permanent Secretary to do a study to find out if there was any before we came.

“From the day I assumed duty in 2016 till today, I have never sighted any request.

“In 2010, 168 applied for waivers it wasn’t before me. In 2011, 208 applied not before me. In 2012, 333 persons; 2013, 448; 2014, 377; and in 2015, 413.

“I came in 2016, in that year 374 persons applied but I didn’t see their application.”

He therefore urged the committee members to invite the Director General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashiru Jamoh, to know the status of the vessels operating in Nigeria.

Amaechi said, “The basic thing in Nigeria waterway is not even those foreigners.

“It is the level of insecurity and the fact that NASS has refused to pass the law approving the setting up of coast guard which would have been the saving grace of all these.

“It is the coast guard that would have found who is operating and who is not.”

The committee resolved to invite the DG NIMASA and the minister to appear before the committee to answer the issue on the waiver.

Folarin recalled that in December 2019, the Senate debated a motion titled urgent need to investigate the breech of Nigerian laws by foreign vessels and coastal shipping of petroleum products in down stream sector of the Nigerian Maritime industry which was sponsored Sen. Olamilekan Mustspha.

He said the Senate mandated the joint committee on Local Content, Downstream Petroleum Sector and Legislative Compliance to investigate the matter.

He said only three stakeholders were able to make the presentation.

He said, “After the lockdown, the committee received a briefing from the director general of NIMASA.

“Today’s meeting is a followup on the issues raised on NIMASA to get the views of the minister of Transport, NNPC on matters being investigated.

“When the DG NIMASA came there were lots of questions he couldn’t answer on waivers and he kept saying it’s the Minister.”

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