Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo

The Nigerian Licensed Ship Chandlers’ Association has raised fresh concerns over the foreign domination of the chandelling business in Nigeria, saying the country loses at least $10bn annually.

It is estimated that over 5,000 ships of different sizes and configurations call at the nation’s eight seaports in addition to other offshore supply vessels and platforms such as the Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading FPSO, which require chandelling services.

Coordinator of the association, Dr. Martins Enebeli, who spoke with members of the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria MARAN, at the weekend, expressed that members of the association numbering over 300 firms, which represent are the indigenous operators in this sub-sect of the maritime industry control less than one per cent of the business.

According to him, the foreign operators in the business repatriate over $10bn annually from the business to the detriment of the indigenous operators, a development he described as unacceptable.

It was gathered that the poor implementation of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage Act 2003 and the Nigerian Content Act 2010, both of which prescribe a minimum level of participation by the indigenous operators both in the shipping and oil and gas industries has helped to compound the problem of the indigenous chandeliers.

The coordinator also attributed the plight of the indigenous operators to the implementation of the Free On Board FOB, policy for the export of Nigeria’s crude oil and Cost, Insurance and Freight CIF, for the shipment of her imports, in both cases the buyers of the crude determine the vessel while the sellers of her imports determine the vessel to be used for the shipment.

“You will discover that most ships that call at Nigeria’s seaports get their chandelling services in Ghana, Angola and other African countries even before they come to Nigeria because of the imbalance in the FOB and CIF trade terms adopted in Nigeria’s export and import business”

“There are no fewer than five million expatriates, who feed fat on the country and should therefore be serviced by Nigerian chandeliers, but this is regrettably not the case as Nigerians have been pushed aside in favour of the foreigners, who supply all the ship requirements, which spells doom for the nation’s socio-economic wellbeing, especially in terms of reducing unemployment and foreign exchange earnings”, Enebeli further lamented.

He also urged that Federal Government to come up with policies that would make it possible for the indigenous operators to take their pride of place in the dollar-rich sub-sect of the maritime industry while the National Assembly should as a matter of urgency enact a legislation that would indigenise the business of chandelling in the country as it is the practice even in some neighbouring African countries.

Investigations show that in some African countries including the Republic of Benin and Togo, the business of chandelling is strictly done by citizens since licenses cannot be issued to foreigners and so any foreign chandelier or even Customs clearing agent must require a citizen of any of the countries to carry out such business due to some legal restrictions on foreign operators.