A former Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Chief Adebayo Sarumi has advised the Nigerian shipowners to insist on carrying the project cargoes coming into the country even as he charged them not to leave the business to the supplier to go looking for his own countries’ shipping services to bring them to the country.
Sarumi who gave this admonition in a speech he delivered to the end of the year workshop and dinner organized by the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) in Lagos on Tuesday stated that a few people had shown that beyond the offshore oil support services, Nigerian shipowners were also beginning to also have their own in the carriage of cargo all over the places counseling them on the need to fight for their rights.
He said that “Beyond the issue of oil exploration support services, whatever project cargoes that are coming to this country must be carried in Nigerian bottoms. You probably have to do something beyond the issue of where you are today. It is easy in your comfort zone to feel complacent and say we are making the dollars by offering support services to oil exploration but I tell you, carrying cargo is equally as lucrative as the type of the shipping services that you are giving.
“So, I am still saying it that even if you have to start like we have course to argue and argue like we did on the World Maritime Day 2016, even if we have to start with non-vessel owning common carriers, we should insist on carrying most of our project cargo, we should not leave the business to the supplier to go looking for his own countries’ shipping services to bring our own cargo to us. I am aware that in the past, even though that has started dying down, I don’t know why that is so but I am aware that you used to say, we wanted to carry some of our petroleum products may be crude. I think the reality is beginning to dawn on us that that is a little more difficult to handle at the moment.
“But I tell you that dry cargo is not difficult to handle and as we have been told, both the outgoing executive as well as the incoming executives should think of the possibility of diversification. I remember that I also mentioned here that even within the cabotage regime, I don’t see why you cannot have and it has been done before and there is a framework for it within the maritime organizations of the West and Central Africa, coastwise cabotage that allows you to carry cargoes between here and countries from Mauritania in the northwest to Angola in the south. I don’t also see why we should not key into that portion and Nigeria is so centrally placed that we should be able to take advantage of that”.
While expressing happiness over the new found relationship between the shipowners and their regulators as confirmed by the President of the association, he prayed for consistency as well as for a new style of approach as fighting was not the only way by which they could get their rights.
While expressing surprise at the number of shipowners existing in Nigeria who he said were going to put Nigeria on the map of ship owning among the countries of the world, he however said that he was not unaware that they were still scratching on the surface.
He however observed that he had begun to see light at the end of the tunnel as according to him, they were beginning to make all the difference as shipowners in the real sense of the word.
“One thing is sure, if I am still living, in another ten years time, the usual UNCTAD maritime review would recognize an Nigerian shipowner as contributing to ship ownership in Africa and I have the believe and the assurance that you are on the way to it”, he summarized.
Earlier in his welcome address, the President, Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun noted that the true potential of the Nigerian maritime sector cannot be realized without effective collaboration between policy makers, regulators, ship owning companies and other key stakeholders adding that it was on that premise that the association was inaugurated and launched to strengthen and sustain the desired connect among key players in the industry while initiating and promoting discourse and activities on emerging issues in the industry for the sake of achieving a robust and holistic maritime agenda.
He noted that since her inauguration in November 2014, SOAN has become an important enabler of maritime discourse both with and outside Nigeria.
According to him, “We are optimistic that these engagements will yield the desired results in the nearest future in order to ease the burdens currently faced by shipowners in running their businesses, facilitate the emergence of a competitive Nigerian maritime industry that is at par with other maritime nations and contribute to the growth of the national Gross Domestic Product”.
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