The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has effected its resolve to end the era of waivers for vessels not covered by the Cabotage Act of 2003.
In the past vessels not covered by the Cabotage shipping regime were granted waivers in what became a problem for the indigenous shipping companies as their vessels could not trade.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and major oil companies had preferred foreign vessels which were granted waivers by NIMASA to operate.
But the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, weekend said NIMASA will no longer encourage the application of any form of waivers under the Cabotage Act, particularly from the oil firms operations as such does not help the growth of the Nigerian maritime sector and economy at large.
In a statement by the Head of Corporate Communications, Nimasa, Mr Isichei Osamgbi, the DG said, “Our laws forbid foreign vessels operating in our territorial waters save for compliance with the Cabotage Act. There shall be no sacred cow when we commence clampdown on erring vessels. We want to increase the number of Nigerians who participate in the marine aspect of your business and we are working closely with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to have a joint categorization of vessels operating under the Cabotage Act in order to ensure the full implementation of the Act”.
The agency disclosed that following this a detention order for a Motor Tanker, MT NAVIGATOR CAPRICORN, which is a Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Carrier, has been approved for contravening sections of the Cabotage Act.
The vessel was first boarded in October 2018 and was given a 90 days grace period to comply by NIMASA which it failed as at January 31.
The agency in the statement said: “It is noteworthy that owners made undertaking to remedy the notable infractions when the vessel was issued a detention warning in October 2018.
“While NIMASA is currently engaging the owners and charterers of the vessel on the need to comply with the laws of the land, MT NAVIGATOR CAPRICORN has been moved to Lagos Anchorage to allow space for other LPG vessels to discharge at the NOJ Jetty.
“It is noteworthy that the NIMASA DG had led members of his team to meet with the Oil Producers Trade Sector (OPTS) in Lagos where he urged industry players to draw up a five-year strategic plan for the cessation of application for Cabotage waiver and also pursue the utilization of Nigerian-owned vessels for marine contracts.
“You will also recall that in August 2018, NIMASA introduced a new Compliance Strategy for Cabotage Implementation in Nigeria to ensure full implementation of the Cabotage Act, 2003 to secure jobs for qualified Nigerians in the maritime sector.
“The Agency via a Marine Notice suspended considerations for applications of grant of waiver on manning for prescribed categories of officers in vessels engaged in Cabotage trade. The Agency no longer consider application for grant of waiver on manning requirements for vessels engaged in coastal trade with regards to 2nd officer, 2ndengineer, 2nd mate down to able seamen, ratings and stewards.
“Special applications for Captains, Chief Engineers, Chief Officers, First Mate in the absence of qualified Nigerians are considered on merit, but on the condition that such organization make plan to train a Nigerian and put in place a transition plan to ensure that the Nigerian takes over the job within one year.
“The whole essence of this was to ensure that Nigerians are not deprived of the jobs due them on showing requisite qualifications for the job”
It is feared that the detention of the vessel may lead to scarcity of cooking gas as the tanker supplies the product to the domestic market.