The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA has given all vessel owners including the International Oil Companies IOCs under the Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage policy a 90-day deadline to register all vessels operating in the country or face dire consequences.

The agency has also given ship owning firms up to three months to obtain a Certificate of Cabotage Registration/License and that operators with expired registration certificates are to ensure the renewal of their Cabotage Operational Certificate/License for all Cabotage vessels or face heavy sanctions.

A recent Marine Notice issued by the agency, indicates that at the expiration of the three months, NIMASA would notify relevant government authorities and the IOCs to bar all vessels without valid Cabotage certificates from operating in the country.   

According to the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, the notice was in line with efforts to ensure strict enforcement of the Cabotage Act 2003 and Guidelines on Implementation of the Act. 

Jamoh reiterated that the Cabotage Act provides that every vessel intended for use in domestic trade must be duly registered by the Registrar of Ships.

“The law provides that every vessel intended for use under the Cabotage Act must be duly registered in the appropriate register and the operational certificates be renewed annually. We are out to ensure strict implementation of NIMASA’s mandate under the law.

“Ultimately, our intention is to build and continue to enhance the capacity of Nigerians in the shipping industry in line with relevant international regulations”, the DG also stated.

Recall that many foreign operators including IOCs and multinational shipping lines have over the years continued to disregard the provisions of the Cabotage Act to the detriment of the indigenous operators, especially non-registration of their vessels to evade payment of the mandatory two per cent fee on any contract done under the policy.

Other areas they violate the provisions of the protectionist legislation is in the area of manning, as many of the ship operators import foreign crew, thus violating section five of the Act, which stipulates the such vessels must be built, owned and manned by Nigerian as well as application of waivers.