Cabotage fund for indigenous shipowners rises to $124m: NIMASA

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The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has disclosed that indigenous shipowners intervention fund also known as Cabotage Vessel Finance Funds (CVFF) has risen to $124million, saying it would disburse it between now and January 2019.

Speaking yesterday at an interactive session with journalists in Lagos, director general of the agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said the fund which was derived from two per cent deductions from every contract awarded was meant to help grow the capacity of indigenous shipowners and also provide the needed capital for them to acquire vessels.

The DG had in September 2017, at a cocktail parley for stakeholders in ship and maritime infrastructure financing organised by the Nigerian Ship Finance Conference and Exhibition (NISFCOE) disclosed that the CVFF funds domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the Treasury Single Account (TSA) was $100 million.

But, speaking yesterday, the DG said, “As at the last time I checked, we have $124 million in the CVFF and it is with the Central Bank of Nigeria and not with any commercial bank. Let me say with some degree of certainty that the CVFF will be disbursed between now or next year.

“The federal minister of transportation who has the authority to disburse the fund have been engaging with me and the industry is engaging him. Also, I have seen that the minister is desirous to disburse the money but he doesn’t want the fund to go the way of previous one or similar funds in the past, but the minister has ordered quick review of guidelines and when they are done with the review, we will commence disbursement of the CVFF,” he assured.

The NIMASA boss also expressed concern over rising cases of piracy on the nation’s waterways. Peterside, who acknowledged that the primary responsibility of the agency was to ensure that vessels that call at the nation’s seaports were safe, assured stakeholders that piracy would be fought to the barest minimum in the next four months.

“We are concerned about cases of piracy within our waterways, but NIMASA working through the maritime command has improved and increased surveillance that within our waterways. We are working with our partners in the Nigerian Navy who have designed a number of special program to patrol waterways especially in the Niger-Delta.

“We have also reactivated our maritime domain awareness our satellite view which give us the view of the entire maritime space, the challenge is building the capacity to respond but today when you come to NIMASA you will see all that is going on within our maritime space we are working very hard to build capacity and we will acquire fast intervention vessels, fast intervention or maritime security helicopter or even special mission aircraft,” he said. Speaking on the compliance of International Ships and Ports Security Code (ISPS) code, he stated that the agency has recorded 80 per cent compliance.

“The primary responsibility of NIMASA is to ensure ships calling at our ports are safe and secured. We are under two principal programmes: ISPS code programme and NIMASA maritime security strategy, that is, the total spectrum of maritime security strategy but what are we doing is that we have grown compliance from 13 per cent at various times to 80 per cent. “We also ensure port facilities adhere to ISPS code and we have been commended by Department of Transport of United Kingdom and United States Coast Guard. We have received commendation from these two major international partners,” he said.

Speaking also, he said vessels operating in the nation’s cabotage trade had increased by 33 per cent in the last six months. Peterside said a total of 125 vessels owned by Nigerians were registered by the agency from January to June 2018.He attributed the growth to increase in activities at the oil and gas and related sector.

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