A front line maritime practitioner, Kayode Farintho has faulted the Nigerian Maritime administration and Safety Agency (NMASA) over its plan to float a national shipping line saying that the idea is not a priority in the industry.
Farintho who spoke in an exclusive interview with Primetime Reporters in his office in Lagos Tuesday, observed that findings has shown that the last national shipping line went underground for personal gains and corruption by some government officials.
He regretted that up until date, nobody has investigated what led to the disposing off of the national carrier and today, NIMASA is planning to come up with another shipping line wondering if it would not go the way of the former.
According to him,” I am of the opinion that it is not a priority. We shouldn’t be thinking of that now because we have found out that the last shipping line was actually sold out for personal aggrandizement and there was an act of corruption and nobody has investigated who did what, what happened and what did not happen. So, it shouldn’t be our priority”.
Farintho who is the former Chairman, association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Tincan Island Chapter admitted that going by the amount of money the agency collects in the maritime sector, it is capable of floating a new national shipping line in six months’ time as it proposed.
He disclosed that NIMASA collects three percent of consignments on freight on Nigerian waters, berthing fees, oil spillage fee as well the grant from the federal government on annual basis therefore buying a vessel in six months would not be a problem for the agency.
He contended that since NIMASA’s hands are full with many responsibilities including the cabotage fund that it has refused to disburse over the years, it would be wrong to leave such a sensitive project like the national shipping line for the agency to run.
The ANLCA Chieftain therefore called on the federal government to set up a Ministry of Maritime Affairs to oversee and take charge of the national carrier in order to ensure effective monitoring and supervision.
“I am of the opinion that the federal government should set up another Ministry to be known as the Maritime Ministry that will look after and take care of the national shipping line. NIMASA has not gotten the capacity, the technical know-how and the morality to manage our shipping line in view of many atrocities that are tied to NIMASA”.
“We have the cabotage fund with NIMASA which it has refused to disburse to the indigenous shippers. You recall that last week, Jolapomo was accusing NIMASA. So, NIMASA should not come and tell us that they want to buy a vessel, if they do that, people like us will go to court”, Farintho said.
He further advised that in floating the national shipping line, NIMASA should follow due process and set up a committee to determine the kind of vessel that would be bought, the amount to be spent, the lifespan of the vessel and the purpose for which it was being purchased.
On the desirability of the Public Private Partnership approach to ports development in Nigeria, Farintho described it as a welcome development arguing that everywhere in the world, it was now the trend to involve the private sector because the idea of government monopoly of the economy is often times sabotaged and therefore no longer fashionable.
He opined that with the Public Private Partnership, more development would be recorded in the industry and more jobs would be created.