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Business & Finance

Cabotage Trade: Foreign Vessels Still Abusing Waivers In Cabotage Act

CABOTAGE
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About 13 years after the enactment of the nation’s Cabotage Act, foreign vessels have continued to hide under the provisions of waivers to do business in Nigerian waters while the lot of the indigenous vessels continue to worsen.

This was the observation of the president of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Mr Greg Ogbeifun, at an investors’ and stakeholders’ roundtable on the Cabotage trade held in Port Harcourt recently where he said that foreign shipowners have continued to man their vessels with foreigners, thus denying Nigerian seafarers employment opportunities and negatively impacting the economy.

He described the Cabotage Act as the “most comprehensive Nigerian legislation with regards to indigenous participation in the carriage of goods by sea and other incidental matters related thereto in the Nigerian maritime domain,” but, however, noted that as an interventionist government policy meant to redress the lack of indigenous presence in the Nigerian shipping trade, the act has failed.

While delivering a keynote address at the 1st Port Harcourt Cabotage Round 2016, themed, ‘The Shipowners and the Strategies to Meet the Challenges of Cabotage Trade in Nigeria,’ Ogbeifun said, “More than 12 years after the ratification of this act, the indigenous shipping industry has still not grown to dominate coastal and inland shipping and its operators. Though competing effectively with foreign shipowners, the indigenous ones are not given the requisite support and encouragement. Rather what obtains is the continued domination of foreigners in the cabotage trade as waivers for non-compliance with the conditions of Nigerian-built, Nigerian-ownership and crewing which were meant to be a short term measure has now become a permanent feature.

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“Thus, making the foreign shipowners view the Cabotage Act as a mere revenue-yielding policy. The ultimate goal of Nigeria’s cabotage regime is to achieve the meaningful participation of Nigeria and Nigerians in coastal maritime trade and ultimately increase the competitiveness of the country in international shipping.”


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