The Chairman, Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority, Hon. Chris Asoluka has called on the Federal Government to evolve an implementation framework to build indigenous shipping capacity in Nigeria.
Hon. Asoluka who was speaking in the ongoing NIMAREX 2014 holding at the Convention Centre, Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos regretted that although there was a colonial and post colonial policies towards building indigenous shipping capacity in Nigeria, implementation of those programmes had always been a problem to successive administrations in Nigeria.
He opined that it was easier for successive governments to come up with policies but more tasking for them to ensure proper implementation of such policies as well as to evaluate them with the purpose of getting feedback that would guide them in future planning.
According to him,” you see, one stage is policy enunciation, the critical stage is the policy implementation as well as evaluation that will generate feedback and you tinker or review. What we have done is to take a pogrom, a policy overview and ask, was there a colonial shipping policy? Yes! It was directed towards the migration of trade as well as cartelization of shipping to the interest of the British”.
“Since Nigeria gained independence, is there a policy to build indigenous shipping capability in Nigeria? Yes! There has been. It is the implementation that we need rejigging “,Asoluka said.
Speaking on the future of the Maritime sector in the next one hundred years, he observed that give a peaceful atmosphere, a lot of things would be overcome and begin to take shape since Nigeria had the population, the entrepreneurs and that Nigerians want to live well.
Asoluka who is also a member of the Governing Council of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping mentioned that the youths were yearning to be employed and empowered and that if the legitimate means for attaining their aspirations could be guaranteed, Nigeria will be a power to watch.
Also speaking on the Minister’s statement that the government would build more seaports, Asoluka stated that the ports the Minister was actually speaking about would be basically built on the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
Asoluka who classified the ports into the green field and brown field ports maintained that the older ports which fall under the brown field had reached a stage when the government would decide what to do with them choosing to either concession them out or to convert them for other purposes.
He opined that this would be possible only if there is a will to direct attention to green field ports assets that are waiting to be tapped.
On the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund, he revealed that the Act establishing the fund was enacted in 2003 and came into effect in 2004 and that by 2010, some money had accumulated in the fund.
While informing that he was told that the policy framework was seeking approval from the relevant authorities, he however warned that adequate care should be taken to ensure that the funded was guarded against the misfortunes that befall the Ship Building and Ship Acquisition Fund.