Dredging Summit 2011.
Pictures of Past Dredging Summits
“For you to participate
in cabotage, you don’t have to be a ship owner…”
over 500 ships, why cabotage trade still suffers!
Nigerian indigenous ship owners have between them more than 500 ships
of various sizes and characteristics. But many are not in class, most
are in need of essential dry-docking, some would need suitable crewing
to pass the test and the adverse terms of engagement by the NNPC, other
international oil companies (IOCs) and local oil companies (LOCs) make
Nigerian ship owners look like sitting ducks. Consequently, the current
profile of local maritime trade in cabotage is nothing to write home
about, despite seven years of implementing the Coastal and Inland Waterways
(Cabotage) Act passed in June 2004. Engr Akin Olaniyan, the chief executive
officer of classification agency, International Naval Survey Bureau
(INSB), says the original framers of the law “over-shot some bounds”;
that there is no way Nigeria can establish a ship yard for big ships.
In fact, according to him, she shouldn’t set up one, it would
be putting the cart before the horse – a veritable castle in the
air! Moreover, as he told DDH during an exclusive interview, Nigerian
officials should be implementing IMO regulations to suit local conditions,
by engaging with technical professionals so that the so-called international
laws that have been a muzzle on Nigerian operators can be applied in
such a way as to cater to Nigerian needs without breaking the spirit
of the legislation, just like it is done in Greece, USA, France, and
even in many developing maritime nations with proactive leadership.
What about the seafarer training campaign being run by NIMASA, how should
it be done effectively? Will CVFF work eventually or go the way of similar
programmes in the past? How can the dream of Nigerian shipyards be attained?
Despite the hue and cry about scarcity and ageing of Nigerian professional
seafarers, is there unemployment in their ranks? Only hands-on chartered
marine engineers like Engr Olaniyan can give the kind of insight elucidated
in this encounter. This is food for thought for indigenous shipping
practitioners or those who just love the sector or even for interlopers
looking for a good foray! In summary, the marine engineer of international
repute wants huge support for what he called the new regime in NIMASA
currently, which he hopes will succeed to “correct mistakes of
the past”. This is a must-read for all who want to comment relevantly
about Nigerian shipping and general maritime trade. Excerpts:
DDH: There is much talk now going on in the industry about the chances
of Nigerian operators taking advantage of the cabotage law provisions
to participate more in maritime trade of the country. As someone who
knows about availability of the tonnage for the trade and what is available
to Nigerian operators, are you optimistic that Nigerian operators are
in good stead?
Engr Olaniyan: When you talk of available tonnage in the industry, I
have always believed that that is not our problem. For example, look
at the issue of wet cargo, the issue of oil industry, because they interweave.
The oil industry is so enormous that our development should have gone
further than what we have now. The crude oil we sell, you know we are
just an agency nation, to mean that we are just selling crude oil, we
are not really utilizing it. We will sell crude oil to an outsider,
an outsider will now sell us refined products. I think we should look
at even the Ghana experience when it comes to cocoa. Ghana has a lot
of cocoa. Five years ago, they realized that enough is enough. They
would [formerly] sell cocoa to Switzerland, to Germany and Switzerland
will now make Swiss chocolate and bring it back to them at a premium.
They have said enough is enough: any cocoa that is leaving Ghana must
be refined, no more selling of cocoa (raw). And I think we should learn
from that. It has added jobs to their labour market; it has added value
even to their own lives. They want the whole world to be saying this
is Ghana chocolate and we too should talking like that.
DDH: Are they producing chocolate now in Ghana?
Engr Olaniyan: Oh yes, you should go to shops in London, shops in America,
you will see Ghanaian chocolates, which was not so in the past. In fact,
when I saw it, I was happy for Ghana. It made me proud. And I believe
that our leadership in Nigeria is up to that and even much more, really.
You might say that am gullible in some things but I strongly believe
that our current President, given the right advice, can do much more
than he is doing right now.
DDH: When you say you don’t believe that our problem is tonnage
of ships, the cabotage law says that the usage must be of Nigerian built,
crewed, registered, etc. Why do you say that availability is not our
Engr Olaniyan: When they drafted [Nigerian] cabotage law, the people
that originally drafted it were maybe too excited to do something to
move the industry forward. I think they over-shot some bounds. We are
not even talking of made-in-Nigeria vessels, because it will take a
long while. I was talking to some government official the other day.
He too accepted and said, don’t let us kid ourselves, nobody can
go to the bank and say I want to borrow money to build a shipyard. Our
economy is such that you must pay back in five or ten years. Today’s
shipyards are not something you pay back for in five or ten years, it’s
almost a generation. To establish shipyards is very simple but we are
not looking in that direction. All we need to do is to establish boat
yards. There’s a lot of jobs for boat yards. You have a lot of
contracts here and there for patrol boats, for ferry boats, etc. Establish
a boat yard and then with time, the boat yard will start to develop.
Am not saying the government should establish the boat yards but private
people. The boat yards will develop to make small supply boats, small
crew boats, small tug boats, even dredgers. In fact, in the docking
world, the technology has shifted from dockyards completely manufacturing
the vessel. No, they do it in sections, and then they put them together.
It’s like the auto industry. No auto maker can say that from the
start to the end, it’s done in this factory. No, the CKD system,
they assemble them. You’d be surprised that an auto factory like
Ford, is doing just one panel that it is doing from scratch. The seats,
other parts, they get from their suppliers. Likewise, the issue of boat
building or ship building.
DDH: So what should happen to the clause in the cabotage law about ships
built in Nigeria?
Engr Olaniyan: I think it should be removed. We are not yet ready for
that level. We should grow into it. What we can do is to accelerate
our growth. And how do we accelerate our growth? If the government is
really serious about it, we should be talking about the government providing
a lot of projects in providing ferry services, for example, and sub-contracting
it out to the private industry. They can say, go and supply me ten ferries
or go and supply me twenty ferries. And let us start with that. And
with that you will see the private sector really coming alive. And we
are even lucky that we have a lot of creeks along the Niger Delta. All
the government should do is to establish peace and security. And once
that is done, you will see people moving there to build infrastructure,
like site and services industry.
DDH: Even in Lagos, couldn’t that type of development solve the
transport problems of Lagos?
Engr Olaniyan: In fact, I will tell you Lagos is taking a lead role
in that. I know of some concerns that are spot-on; they are going head
first into building ferries for Lagos environs. Because Lagos is advantageous
in that sense, it has a lot of water axis and I know a couple of people
that are really doing that. And I know that before the end of this year,
the landscape of Lagos would have changed. Lagos state government has
shown a lot of willingness to assist the private sector in terms of
policy and the issues of bureaucracy they have removed, from what I
have seen. You could just walk up to LASWA and tell them you want to
start ferry service and they will tell you the credentials that you
need, and once you fulfill it, they will tell you pay this for that
one, pay that for that one. So, in that wise, there is a lot of progress.
To come back to the original question, cabotage is the best thing for
us. But when we say cabotage, the cabotage areas around the country
where cabotage is enforced, we should allow Nigerians to really work
it. What do I mean by that? Our crude oil, for example, should be F.O.B
[free on board] when leaving the country.
DDH: But won’t this be mired in politics and difficult to legislate?
Engr Olaniyan: No, don’t let us hide behind political issue. (General
laughter). You see, we are talking economy now, don’t let us shy
away from issues and say it is political. It’s not a political
issue. My brother, that I am hungry is not political issue. If we could
organize it so that all these Vitol, Trafigura, etc [foreign carriers
of Nigerian crude oil], for example…. Ask Nigerians to collect
the crude oil from the loading stations and go and deliver it to Trafigura
outside the [cabotage] limits. It will not increase the cost of the
crude oil because in any event Trafigura has accounted for it from wherever
they are taking it, to the source. What we are just saying is that that
part of business, that segment, you bring it to us, instead of giving
it to them. Likewise anybody that is bringing anything from anywhere
to our ports, you tell them, when you get to our cabotage limits, you
give it to Nigerians to bring it in. We only want to see Nigerian vessels.
There should be a lot of transshipment and whatever. But the question
that will easily arise is do we have the wherewithal to do it, the ships?
But I will tell you, yes. You see, that is one thing we don’t
realize. If, for example, you are a minister today, and you say Akin,
I want to do this and this and that. I know that we don’t have
the ships but I want to do all these and I want to give it to a Nigerian,
go and acquire the ships. I will easily go and acquire the ship if I
have a contract. If I have a contract, it’s a matter of going
to the bank. “Bank, I have this job to do. This is what will do
it. This is my profit. It’s guaranteed by the person that is giving
me.” Now, what else do I need? I will get a good ship because
I have a job already. The problem that ship owners are facing in this
country is that they cannot afford to get a good ship because they have
not been guaranteed any jobs. Most of them do spot charter. So, tell
me, why should I get a brand new ship when I know there is no job? It
doesn’t make sense. If there is no cargo, there is no need for
me to acquire a new ship. When the cargo is guaranteed to me, I will
acquire the new ships, I will tell my brothers in the village to go
and train themselves so that I can employ them. They will go to universities,
maritime academies, to get knowledge.
DDH: So we can summarise that not many Nigerians have really participated
in the cabotage trade?
Engr Olaniyan: Far, far less. Why is that? You see, cabotage trade,
for you to participate in cabotage, you don’t have to be a ship
owner, the spin-offs are too enormous. It’s a large-base pyramid,
they are so enormous but at the tip of the pyramid, it’s the cargo.
Once the cargo is there, it now brims down to the base. And the base
is too enormous, it touches every part of our lives. If you look at
it from this angle that about 93% of what comes into this country is
by water, then you will understand what am saying. Aviation is very
minor, yet it has a ministry. We should be talking about having a ministry
of maritime because it’s the base. In this country now, apart
from oil and gas, the next is maritime and without maritime the oil
and gas will not work.
DDH: The last time we interviewed you, you gave scenarios where Nigeria
can internally manage the application of international laws on the pre-qualification
of tonnage in such a way that local ship owners are not shunted aside
because of the accusations of the so-called rust buckets. Was any progress
made in this direction to empower local operators within the available
Engr Olaniyan: No. I hope and pray that the DG of NIMASA will not pay
lip service to this. He seemed to want to make progress. I have always
told him, the few times that we met, that this whole industry belongs
to all of us. So anything by way of advice we can give, we shall give.
By virtue of what I do in the industry as a classification society,
I have come to see a lot of things. It has opened my eyes to how the
industry is operating. There are some minor things, minor in size but
maybe major in ramification, that needs to be addressed. You see the
issues of our laws. Nigeria, I don’t know whose wisdom it is,
we go to IMO, we append our signatures on some of these conventions
and that is that. Maybe we think that will give us a space in the IMO
Council. And I have always asked people what benefits we have gained
by being in the IMO Council? The last time Nigeria was in the Council
some years back, there was so much pomp that we finally made it, we
are now in the Council. How has it benefited us? Unfortunately most
of the people there in NIMASA that time are no more there now. And it
will be very unfair to ask the DG that question but I would want him
to look at the past mistakes and try as much as possible to correct
them. You see we go to the IMO meetings and, the way I see it, it’s
as if we, more or less, follow the crowd. It’s not a tea party;
in fact, it’s a market place and as you put your wares, so shall
it be priced. If we are to follow IMO verbatim, what we would be doing
is killing our own industry, totally. Why? Because we have said it,
no tonnage, no ships. So everybody is like doing a spot market. If I
bring my ship in and I operate it today I might not get work for the
next six months, maybe after six or seven months I now get a small carriage
to move from here to Port Harcourt, and am back. And what happens, I
owe my staff money, I owe banks money, I owe creditors money here and
there. That’s not shipping, certainly not. I do a job once in
six months or once a year. Of course, after that time, I don’t
maintain my vessels because there’s no money. I don’t have
money to service the vessels or be in class. Now, tell me, on those
conditions, you bring in an IMO regulation that binds me to do some
things which I cannot do. This is one of the things killing our growth.
Now, some people go to IMO meetings and say yes, double-hull exemption,
for example, we shall follow IMO regulation because we want to be world-class.
It doesn’t make sense. You talk about standards, that it must
be world standard, it must be this standard or that standard. If I follow
American standard, is it world standard? It’s a country standard.
If I follow British standard is it world standard? It’s a country
standard. If I follow German standard is it world standard or I go to
the Far East and do things the way they do things, will I say that am
world standard? Many of these IMO conventions, if you go and check it,
America is not a signatory to many of them. America will tell you that
“look, all these your things, that’s your own. In my own
country, this is what I do”. All these limits [like EEZ, continental
shelf, etc] that we give ourselves, America will say I don’t have
any limits or zones. My zone is where my vessel is. And to hell with
the whole world, nothing happens.
DDH: So, do you mean that we can do that in Nigeria?
Engr Olaniyan: You see, I will use the word, it’s the political
will. A lot of things we can do. If I were the authorities, I would
go to IMO and tell the Secretary-General that in my country, this and
this and this is what operates. I don’t have the money to do this
and this. This is my local law, how you will accommodate me to be part
of the comity of nations is left to you or else if I pull out and tell
my other colleagues in Africa to pull out, you will have a problem.
So, let us talk these things out; all these things are about bargaining,
using what you have to get what you want. Unfortunately, in the past…but
I believe that now things will change, I want to believe so. Now there’s
a lacuna in the growth of professionals, the next generation, we don’t
know how they are going to cope. All the old hands, many of them have
retired and left the stage and now you have a blank space.
DDH: How does this worry those of you who are older generation professionals
in the industry?
Engr Olaniyan: Look, I class vessels, I inspect vessels, and I know
what I go through in, first of all, trying to explain to ship owners,
the mundane things. In fact, it gets to a near-frustration point, where
I just say, don’t worry, just do it like this, because you can’t
communicate anymore. But, like they say, they are ignorant and arrogant.
The other day, I was at the Nigerian Dredging Summit and talking to
dredger operators, and I saw a lot of hostility, as if they are saying,
who is this, a class society, who are they, are they local government?
This is part of multiple taxation, we don’t want them.
DDH: In the circumstances, what do you recommend for NIMASA to do to
begin to achieve the cabotage and other mandates?
Engr Olaniyan: They must embark on a revitalization programme for all
stakeholders. It is their duty to grow the industry, it is their job.
Am not saying to give anybody money. Let them go on a revitalization
campaign to educate people, to talk with people, to in fact, get jobs
for people. Because without the jobs, there will be no ships, and if
there are no Nigerian-flagged ships, then why do you have all these
gigantic buildings? So, they should be in a position to secure tonnage
from NNPC, from LNG, from wherever. We are operating a closed registry,
don’t forget. If it were an open registry, then I would be saying
well, my taxes are smaller than other taxes. In America, they operate
a closed registry but they have satellite open registries, Panama, Marshall
Islands, Liberia, etc. But it got to a stage where they discovered that
their taxes were too high. If you go to other open registries, you get
lower taxes. They now called ship owners together and said look don’t
worry. Come and register with us, we know our taxes are high, we will
reduce it. So that you too can come and the trade within America will
be exclusively yours. That was the way to help their own cabotage trade.
DDH: Do you think NIMASA requires to massively re-train its staff across
Engr Olaniyan: Certainly. What I have discovered about that is that
over the several past administrations, they have been paying too much
lip service. They will say now, we are going to re-train our surveyors
but it is like a scratch on the surface. Retraining your staff doesn’t
stop at taking them overseas. That was what they have been doing in
the past, take staff overseas, and next year again, they will take the
same person for a refresher course. No. Even if they did that, the person
that went for that course should come back and retrain others. It shouldn’t
be the exclusive preserve of one person. Look at our Maritime Academy.
With the population of Nigeria, we only have one. In the Philippines,
that’s a major export.
DDH: I understand they have 48 maritime colleges?
Engr Olaniyan: Am sure more than that. It’s all lined up along
their coast, so you take your choice. And they train themselves and
export their seafarers.
DDH: In terms of assistance to cabotage operators, how do you rate CVFF?
Engr Olaniyan: In my own opinion, I don’t think we should have
CVFF. Number one, it breeds corruption in a way because if you are the
CEO of NIMASA, and you are that type, it gives you the opportunity to
play around with money. Number two, why do we need the CVF Fund. At
the end of the day, CVF Fund will say, Edmund, you applied for CVFF.
For what vessel? You go to Europe and look for a tokunboh 15-year old
vessel and you say the vessel is $10m. Then they will say, alright we
shall give you $5m, go and look for $5m. And then you run helter skelter,
get the money and buy the vessel. It’s still the 15-year-old vessel
and the oil industry says oh, we can’t use this one. IOCs will
say we can’t give you STS (ship-to-ship) transfer. Then you are
left alone to go and sort it out yourself. What you now end up having
is you have a vessel, you are doing spot hire, and when nobody is watching,
you go to the creeks to steal petrol or to steal crude, take it to Togo
Triangle and sell it off. Those are the things that many of them do
to survive. They must do something to survive. Look, a ship needs constant
attention, particularly when it’s not working, that’s when
it needs more money.
DDH: Looking at the issue of ageing generation of Nigerian seafarers
like master mariners, engineers, surveyors, etc, and efforts to regenerate
the sector with younger ones, do you think that enough is being done,
especially with the NSDP? If not, what are the needed urgent steps to
ensure that Nigerian maritime sector will still have more generations
of skilled personnel?
Engr Olaniyan: What I can tell you, as
I said before, is that we have paid too much lip service to all these
things. When NIMASA finishes training the NSDP beneficiaries, what job
do they want them to do? That is the issue and where we should start
from. The reason the industry is dying, fading away is because there
are no jobs. All these ones [the training programmes] am not sure it
is needful. Let us have the jobs.
DDH: Do you mean jobs for master mariners,
marine engineers, etc?
Engr Olaniyan: Yes.
DDH: Are there unemployed master mariners
and marine engineers and the like?
Engr Olaniyan: Ah, you can say that again.
You have many seafarers that are on the streets and don’t know
what to do. The truth is that there are no ships for them. Many of them,
to make life bearable for themselves go into trading, buying and selling
oil, ‘petroleum products’, that they never see. You hear
them saying, ah I have 50 tons, do you want to buy it? The other one
will say, yes I will buy it. In his turn, he takes the relay and tells
another person, I have 50 tons, do you want to buy it? And then you
see a chain of able-bodied young men saying I have 50 tons, do you want
to buy? The funny part is that the person that originated it, another
person comes to ask him, I have 50 tons, do you want to buy? (General
laughter). If they were employed, would they be doing that? The truth
of it all is that if our shipping industry is revitalized and shipping
companies have jobs, they would be forced [to train their staff]. Look,
if am a shipping company and I have good contracts, I would be the one
training young people, sending people to go to Cairo, go and do this,
go to Accra, go and do that. But in the event that I don’t have
a job, and can hardly pay my salaries….
DDH: Are there many Nigerian ships that
are laid up, unemployed?
Engr Olaniyan: Oh yes. Majority of Nigerian
vessels don’t have work, many; in fact, an armada of vessels.
They just park them and they do spot hire now and then. Many of the
shipping companies, that’s why they have a high turnover of staff.
Because when you work in company A, it doesn’t pay you for six
months. You move to company B. Then in the process, because you must
survive, you will steal; you start stealing R.O.B (remainder on board),
either AGO [diesel] or you pilfer vessel parts. The vessel starts to
deteriorate. Those are the things that happen. But if there were jobs,
as we have been saying, if cabotage trade ensured that there were jobs,
if our crude oil was sold at F.O.B, for example, then Nigerian-flagged
vessels operating in cabotage would have a job. If I have a job like
that perpetually, I would be able to train my staff. The dearth of seafarers
would not be pronounced. We would encourage universities to have departments
and faculties. But if they do so now, where would the graduates get
a job? So, like I said, the pyramid starts with cargo at the tip and
then at the base, you see a lot of fallouts.
DDH: Is it possible for you to give me
the statistics of the vessels we have, the numbers, the types, any ideas.
Engr Olaniyan: What I may give you in
terms of numbers may be misleading, so let me not mislead you but about
60% of our vessels are tankers including barges and the rest are service
boats and special equipment vessels. Then we have crew boats and service
boats, offshore supply vessels. We have very limited numbers of reefer
boats, in fact, I don’t think we have reefers. We have maybe one
or two or three dry cargo ships.
DDH: Do they do ocean shipping?
Engr Olaniyan: Maybe once in a while,
[otherwise] they do coastal services.
DDH: In terms of tankers, can you say
we have 20, 30, 40 or what number?
Engr Olaniyan: Much more than that. If
I go by what I have even in my class, very much more than that. Nigerian-flagged
tankers, we should have over 200 but many of them are out of service.
So you can’t say whether some are still in existence. But if go
by my experience, we should have over 500 Nigerian-owned and flagged
vessels but this is over a period of years. However, many of them might
have been retired.
DDH: As of 2011 maybe over 200 or 300
that may still be active?
Engr Olaniyan: Am sure that information
you can collect from NIMASA.
DDH: Still can we say we have up to 200
or 300 active vessels (Nigerian-owned) that may be active?
Engr Olaniyan: ‘May’ is the
key word. But again, what is active? A vessel that has not done any
job for six months, one year, is that active? Is it in class?
DDH: But could we get 100 that is active
and in class?
Engr Olaniyan: I don’t think so.
DDH: Do you think 50 is a good number?
Engr Olaniyan: Maybe, thereabout.
DDH: That are sound and ready to go?
Engr Olaniyan: No no no. There are no
sound and ready to go vessels. When you say sound and ready to go ….
What you should say is, which vessels are currently under charter now.
DDH: So, can we say Nigerians have up
to 20 or 30 of that?
Engr Olaniyan: Don’t let me mislead
you. I cannot give you figures because it might be misleading. Most
of these statistics, really, if you go to NIMASA, at least they can
help you a bit to tell you the number of vessels they have registered.
DDH: Now, as a nation endowed with maritime
resources, isn’t it shameful?
Engr Olaniyan: This is totally unacceptable.
DDH: Now, sir what does the International
Naval Survey Bureau do in the industry?
Engr Olaniyan: Oh yes, we do a lot of
consulting. We are a technical service provider, a classification society.
We inspect, assess, verify and we certify Ships and ship security, ship
safety, pollution prevention, in accordance to local and national laws,
and IMO regulations. Although the local-national laws and IMO regulations
seem to be the same but I think we should distinguish between them.
We offer service to the banks, the finance industry, insurance companies
and even to individuals by way of evaluation and valuation. We are truly
independent marine and maritime technical advisors. Again, we promote
maritime businesses without being involved. The idea is to guide up-starts.
Surveying has evolved from being the ‘policeman’ to being
the ‘friendly adviser and gentle supervisor’.
DDH: That means if Nigeria is interested in adapting international laws
so that local practitioners are not shunted aside, your company can
advice about that?
Engr Olaniyan: If my society is asked
to advice in that wise, why not? We will do so and it will be based
on our experiences, how we have seen the industry, how the industry
is being operated, how ship owners see the industry. For example, when
you talk about ISPS Code, ship owners don’t really understand
what it is. They don’t understand what security really is. To
them, IMO is just trying to be funny and want to make up an extra multi-taxation
bla bla bla. But it is really for their good. We talk to them, we encourage
them, we see their problems and their limitations. Then we try to see
how we can manage them.
DDH: When you say a ship is out of class
internationally, how can you adapt that ship to work in Nigeria?
Engr Olaniyan: When it is out of class,
it doesn’t have anything to do with whether it can work. Most
of the ships out there are out of class anyway, and they are still working.
All the ships they are stealing R.O.B from are not in class, because
they cannot afford to take their vessels to the dockyard. However, what
we can look at is how can we make them work safely within our confines?
Here, we don’t have adverse weather. Only one storm we had one
time ago and of course you know the effect. It took everybody unawares.
But the root cause of that was human error on the part of the flag administration
which did not warn the vessel owner that there was a storm coming in
the flags port of refuge, the human error on the part of the ships’
crew who were caught napping and many more who did not have any officer
on watch when the thing happened. Otherwise, usually we don’t
have storms, it’s like we don’t have hurricanes, we don’t
have earthquakes, there might be some tremors here and there. So, with
all these things, the class can help develop a local set of rules and
regulations for ships operating only in the locality, for cabotage.
Once you leave that locality, you are on your own and you have to abide
by international rules. But you see, you have majority of our vessels
that just come here, they don’t leave the cabotage [area].
DDH: So this should suit them?
Engr Olaniyan: Certainly, it will help
them. It’s being done in many other countries. It’s not
just particular to Nigeria. It’s not because Akin Olaniyan said
so. It’s being done in Greece. Greece is regarded as the capital
of shipping in the world. In America, they have their own subtle way
of doing it. Even in Singapore. These are models Nigeria can base a
lot of things on.
DDH: And on the question of waiver being
granted to foreign ship owners to operate in the cabotage trade, what
are your suggestions on how optimize its use for Nigeria?
Engr Olaniyan: Well, in these things I
believe that we can look at the practice in other countries as a comparison;
we don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Countries like the US, UK,
Singapore, even South Africa. In the aviation industry, like Belgium.
They have this kind of arrangement. What do they do? If a foreign vessel
comes to ask the Minister for a waiver, what the Minister does is before
he appends his signature on the consent for a waiver, he takes the case,
the job the foreigner wants to come and do in their shores, he takes
it to their Chamber of Shipping or the equivalent of ISAN (Independent
Shipowners Association of Nigeria) or groups like that and says, “look,
there’s a job in Port Harcourt for this, this and this. Can any
of you do it? If you can’t do it and giving it to XYZ from Nicaragua
or Outer Mongolia”. If they can do it, then you tell the foreigner,
am sorry no waiver. But if the technology is not there for us to do
it, then you can tell the foreigner, “Alright Mr. Foreigner, I
give you six months’ operation to do it. In that six months, if
you still have to do it, you come for a waiver, and if I ask my people
and they say they are not available, then you can continue doing it”.
Simple and straightforward. You see, the essence of cabotage is to empower
your people. So, you always give them the first choice of refusal. What
that means is that the minister should encourage groups of people that
come together. Then there will be a lot of progress in the industry.
DDH: And if the jobs are many, and the
minister has to do this for all of them, would this not brook delay
in the field where the contracts are awaiting execution?
Engr Olaniyan: Delay for whom? We are
to benefit. If delay for the foreigner, who cares about the foreigner,
they can go back to their country. For the local industry, if, for example,
am NNPC and I want to give out a job, and the foreign company says,
yes I can do it for you, what I will tell him next, you see the system
must be built in, now we have the Local Content law. So the checks should
have been built in in the Local Content Act. But I can still tell the
foreigner to go to the Ministry of Transport or Local Content Office
and get a waiver. But for me that is bringing out the job, because of
Local Content, I would have built in the time-frame to give the person
that will do the job four or five months to mobilise. So, within that
window, you get the waiver sorted out.
DDH: There is the allegation that if Nigerian
ships operating in cabotage trade is 20, then foreign ships are like
80 in number and they get the jobs first before Nigerians…?
Engr Olaniyan: Yes, I believe that allegation
but again the Minister’s office has said that they have not given
anybody any waiver. The truth of the matter however, is that we have
not really supervised or marshaled our cabotage regime. So, really,
anything gives here. A lot of jobs that are supposed to be here, the
clever ones just take them to Cotonou and do it. They say that, after
all, it’s not in your cabotage jurisdiction. But until the F.O.B
policy is changed, so that even if you go to wherever, and you are bringing
your cargo in, that when you get to the cabotage limits, you must adapt
[and surrender it to Nigerians]. We have left a lot of things undone
and people are just doing it anyhow. All people like us can do now is
to be optimistic and keep hope alive.
DDH: Do you have faith that a forward-looking
NIMASA regime can add these ideas in their implementation of the cabotage
trade to improve it?
Engr Olaniyan: Well, the regime that is
there now, I want to believe so, until am proven otherwise. I think
it will be premature to say that this NIMASA [regime] there now are
not good enough, they are not this, they are not that, no no no. If
they leave, what legacies have they left behind? For now, we should
be able to back them up and not pull them down.
Beach another Bar Beach saga in the making?
Alpha Beach in the Lekki
peninsula is gradually being wiped out as you read these lines. The
culprit is the Atlantic Ocean. In the past few weeks, most of the shanties
and shacks that used to serve the hospitality industry are gone; their
owners left without their businesses. Most importantly that pristine
ecosystem has been taken over by the ocean waters and it is now becoming
a nightmare to people who have erected palatial mansions on that waterfront.
What will they do?
Other Articles &
Mr Pier Luigi Carrodano on his work with Gen. T Y Danjuma's companies
and the Chinese sea trade with Nigeria...NEW
Engr Akin Olaniyan on need for NIMASA to return to original mandate
and harnessing cabotage trade...NEW
Dr. Wilson Odafe Omene on Niger
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Adeyemo on River Niger Dredging...NEW
P.C. Nwilo on his assessment of NIWA during sabbatical ...NEW
Nseyeng Ebong on his 8-year tenure as rector of Maritime Academy
of Nigeria Oron...NEW
Dumo Lulu Briggs as
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Muyiwa Omasebi: The face-off Between NIWA, MMSD and Lagos State Govt.
K Folarin: The Collapse
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Carrodano: How govt
can revive Nig. shipping lines.
Epia: The struggles
of Nig shipping lines with cargo reservation scheme.
Gibb: Intricacies of
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many choppers has DPR got?" - Chief Ogunsiji.
Dredging the Niger Delta: Interview of Ben Efekarurhobo.
of Surveying in the Dredging Industry
Of Myth, Reality and Resource Control
Law: A judgment on the ownership of a sand dredging site by the
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Lagos State Attorney General Interpretes state law on sand dredging
NIWA public notice on Lagos State intervention in inland waterways regulation.