29th June, 2012
To address the current lapses in the Cabotage Act, otherwise called the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act of 2003, the House of Representatives is seeking stakeholders’ views towards the intended amendment of the act.
After about nine years of its enactment to help boost indigenous participation in the nation’s coastal trade, the implementation of the act has largely attracted severe criticisms from stakeholders, some who have gone as far as labelling it as “a failure.”
These critics say that the Cabotage Act has failed to meet the yearnings of indigenous operators, noting that they have not been able to tap into the plethora of opportunities said to have been opened up by the act.
Managing Director of Seagate Global Services Limited, Dr. Wilson Arikpo, told P.M. News that insincerity on the part government and limited understanding of the requirements of the act by operators have made the act not to produce the desired result since inception.
Arikpo said that the Cabotage Act, like every other legislation in Nigeria, has not effectively taken off.
He lamented that Nigerians are yet to reap the gains of the act meant to empower and position them for greater participation in the country’s coastal trade.
Arikpo said: “The Cabotage regime in Nigeria is yet to produce the desired result since its inception and this is largely due to insincerity on the part of government and limited understanding of the requirement of the Act itself by operators. Ask the Indigenous Shipowners Association of Nigeria (ISAN) if they are doing good business with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG).
“The government prefers to give you business only if you enter into some sort of technical partnership with foreigners. Tell me, how do you expect the indigenous ship owners to acquire vessels without viable allocation of freight that will ensure profitability?”
Chairman, House Committee on Marine Transport, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, had disclosed in Lagos late last year at an orientation retreat organised for members of the newly-constituted committee, that the Cabotage Act will be amended to address the yearnings of stakeholders this year.