Indigenous ship owners in the country have expressed their concern over the non-enforcement of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2003 (Cabotage Act) in view of the implications for their businesses in the shipping industry.

Expressing the position of the group on the non-enforcement of the Act by the Federal Government, a member of the group, Captain Niyi Labinjo, explained that the continued delay of the enforcement of the law was denying the indigenous investors the opportunity of lifting crude oil and mitigating the companies’ capacity building and competitiveness.

To reverse the ugly trend, he advocated the need for government to remove all constraints delaying the implementation of the Act and allow indigenous firms to participate in oil business.

Labinjo disclosed that while the banks were willing to give shipowners loans if the government implements the Act as there is enough opportunity for them carry part of the crude being lifted by the foreign shipping lines.

He lamented that despite the training of over 20,000 cadets under the National Seafarers Development Programme a few years ago, the non-implementation of the Cabotage Act had made it impossible to get the skilled hands employed by shipping companies

While advocating for improved funding of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria to enable the academy to produce competent cadets, he harped on the imperative of complying also with the Nigerian Content Act and encouragement of the association to participate fully in the cabotage business.

He clarified further: “We will continue to press the government. We’ll continue to make our views known about the need for proper compliance with Cabotage Act; about the need for proper compliance with the Nigerian Content Act.

“For instance, if I have a government that is insisting that this year out of the 2.5 million barrels of oil that Nigeria exports, 1.5 million barrels would be carried by Nigerians and they say, ‘ISAN take this 1.5 million barrels, go and carry it,’ we will gladly go to the bank; the bank will give us money and we will do it.

“So, if you say what is our expectation; then, we will say this year we will struggle to carry the one million the government has given to us and hopefully by next year, we will do 1.5 million barrels. That is the expectation.

“That is what has happened in the case of Brazil. Their government insists that they must use local content and the government approved about 700 agencies, which were issuing certificates of compliance on local content”, Labinjo added.