Nigeria’s shipping industry scary, foreign -dominated-Gov. Obaseki …Commends Starzs Group on delivery of MV Osanyamo
MV OSANYAMO; while on sail from South Africa to Nigeria
BY FRANCIS EZEM
Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said that Nigeria’s shipping industry has remained largely foreign-dominated and ‘scary’ over the years despite Federal Government’s various interventions to rescue it from the claws of foreign operators.
The governor, who made this observation in Onne, River State at the weekend, spoke during the official commissioning of MV Osanyanmo, an Azimuth Stern Drive Tug Boat 5114 Class built by Damen Ship Yard, South Africa for the STARZS Group, one of the foremost fully indigenous shipping firms.
The ASD 5114 model is the largest in Damen’s ASD tug range till date. A state-of-the-art, highly manoeuvrable vessel fully equipped for offshore operations, it is 52.3 metres in length and displacing 800 tonnes.
He regretted that some of the interventions by the Federal Government such as the enactment of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage Act 2003 and the Local Content Act 2010, which also created the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board NCDMB, have not been able to substantially reduce foreign grip on the industry.
He also argued that Nigeria’s weak economic base has not helped in salvaging the industry, which has all it takes to grow the economy if the potential are properly tapped, arguing that this development has not only affected Nigeria’s balance of trade, but also, the well-being and the future of the teeming youth population with the attendant high unemployment rate.
“Overtime, the maritime industry, in spite of the supports it had received from the government, such as the Cabotage Policy, and the Local Content Scheme, has continued to be dominated by foreign companies, like I said earlier.
“Apart from the brief spell when Nigeria had the defunct national carrier, the Nigerian National Shipping Line NNSL, which offered citizens of the country sea opportunities in the maritime industry, the country lost that opportunity to build the much needed human capacity to would enable her harness the abundant resources that would have enabled he dominate the industry. And as you know, the NNSL failed just like several many other business endevours by the country”, Governor Obaseki recounted.
According to him, the sad demise of the NNSL has continued to cost the country several economic and human development opportunities, which would have been properly harnessed to the benefit of the citizenry, if the shipping line was properly managed.
He however expressed optimism that all hopes were not lost if the nation’s financial sector, the NCDMB and indeed other institutional bodies could synergise and partner the indigenous private operators with a view to creating more opportunities that would also ensure that more Nigerians come into the various segments of the industry currently dominated by foreigners.
He therefore commended Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, the chairman of STARZS Group for his resilience, commitment and resourcefulness in the face of harsh economic conditions, especially by mobilising optimally utilising local funds for the acquisition of the new vessel, which is the newest on the company’s fleet.
The Governor also expressed his appreciation to Engr. Ogbeifun, who doubles as President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria SOAN, for giving him such a rare privilege of commissioning a vessel, which is its first in his life.
“I feel really privileged that I am performing for the first time in my life, the christening, dedication and commissioning of a vessel, I have never done it before”, he said with excitement.
It was further gathered that the vessel, MV ‘OSANYAMO’, was primary built to assist in tanker lifting operations alongside Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading FPSO vessels in the Gulf of Guinea, especially under a contract with Total Exploration & Production Nigeria Limited.
Some of the features of the boat include 268 square metres of deck space at 5 tonnes load per m², large fuel and fresh water tanks with transfer capabilities and towing winches both fore and aft. Her bollard pulls capability is 115 tonnes at stern and 110 tonnes ahead.
The double-tier deckhouse provides accommodation for 14- crew members and up to 10 passengers built in compliance with the requirements of the Maritime Labour Convention MLC.