The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has expressed willingness to partner the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to refloat a national shipping line.
Dakuku Peterside, director general of NIMASA disclosed this when he played host to Alex Okoh, the director general of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) in Lagos.
Dakuku stated that shipping to a large extent defines the growth trajectory of any nation especially as it relates to seaborne commerce. He noted that the greatest asset in the maritime space is the vessel itself and if there are no vessels, one cannot be a major player.
“You can only be a major player in name, but in reality, you will not get maximum benefit from trade,” he said, adding that the only way to guarantee the efficiency and effectiveness of shipping, which will add value to the economy, is through the involvement of the private sector.
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The NIMASA DG also disclosed that Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transport, has initiated a process whereby people from the private sector will pull resources together to float a national fleet, facilitated by the ministry and NIMASA, and that the process, which will enhance the Nigerian Flag is ongoing.
To this end, according to him, the ministry has appointed a National Fleet Implementation Committee, headed by Hassan Bello, the executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, who is also working closely to with NIMASA.
“The emphasis of the Federal Ministry of Transportation is to drive a process where we will refloat the national fleet, this time with the core investors that will own 49 percent of the shares, whereas, Nigerian ship owners will own 51 percent of the shares of the firm and the firm will also be given the national carrier status.
We are looking at different models to review what had happened over time, and choose the best model,” the DG said.
Earlier in his address, Alex Okoh, the BPE DG, commended the strides of the Peterside’s led management of NIMASA in repositioning the maritime sector. He said that BPE is the agency of government that is responsible for sector and enterprise reforms and of the Federal Government.
He emphasized that businesses are better managed by the private sector and that government has very little to do in business apart from creating an enabling environment for businesses to strive.
Accordingly, he stated that the BPE will be willing to partner NIMASA in the quest to revive the National Unity Line in collaboration with the private sector. “We have looked at the Nigerian Unity Line and the only tangible asset they have is operating license. The license confers on the enterprise certain privileges, deriving from the Cabotage Act and from the local content policy.
“This can be the foundation for the building block of a virile shipping business in Nigeria”, he said.
He, therefore, called on NIMASA to take a common position with the BPE in realizing the privatization mandate, which will be forwarded to the National Council on Privatization as the strategic way forward for handling this enterprise.
Part of NIMASA’s commitment is to ensure a robust maritime sector, and it has continued to work closely with the ministry of transportation, which has been at the forefront of championing the revitalization of the National Shipping Line with private sector participation.