Maritime stakeholders have urged the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, to take urgent steps that would lead to the disbursement and utilisation of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund CVFF domiciled at the agency, as part of measures develop local capacity to fully harness the potential of the country’s rich and vast blue economy.

This is part of the 13-point communiqué issued at the harmonised stakeholders’ interactive session organised by NIMASA in Lagos at the weekend as part of efforts to aggregate stakeholders’ consensus on effective implementation of the agency’s statutory mandates in order to fully harness the country’s blue economy.

The stakeholders were of the consensus that NIMASA should continue to make the necessary representations to the approving authorities in order to facilitate the disbursement and utilisation of the CVFF in order to achieve the statutory purpose of developing indigenous shipping capacity with a view to achieving the objective of fully harnessing the nation’s blue economy.

The stakeholders also made a strong case to the agency to create enabling environment for the private sector to invest in the shipping industry in order to achieve the objective of developing the nation’s blue economy pursuant to its statutory mandates.

Other recommendations by the stakeholders include that the agency should take responsibility for the provision of sea time berths for cadets of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme NSDP, given the current problem of lack of funds and the total absence of a national fleet.

The communiqué reads in part: “NIMASA should commit itself to pursuing its Maritime Administration MARAD, mandates through collaboration and engagement with stakeholders and in the spirit of this interactive forum, all critical issues shall be duly presented to the stakeholders for their input and consultation”.

“The battle against piracy and other criminal activities on Nigeria’s waters is receiving the highest attention from the Nigerian Navy, NIMASA and other agencies working in collaboration and will receive a substantial boost when the recently approved Surveillance Contract delivers state of the art equipment and facilities for the use of the industry, NIMASA should engage relevant agencies and stakeholders in order to create a regime of concessions and policy initiatives designed to boost the competitive edge of Nigerian ship owners compared to their foreign counterparts”.

“That NIMASA should launch a programme of zero tolerance to non-compliance with maritime safety and security standards in order to eliminate substandard shipping in Nigeria, that the processes of the Nigerian Ship Registration Office, which is being automated and expected to be available online should be expedited for real ship owners and prospective owners without undue delay”.

The stakeholders however commended NIMASA’s commitment to the maintenance of a clean and pristine marine environment in Nigeria in line with applicable international conventions, having put in place the appropriate administrative regime to achieve this.

They however urged the agency to engage relevant agencies with a view to initiating measures designed to develop passenger, containerised, wet and dry cargo transportation on the nation’s waterways and that the calculation of NIMASA’s three per cent levy on all wet cargo should be based on freight tonne which is Cubic Measurement CBM.

The stakeholders also called for adequate and sufficient insurance cover to minimise the risk of losses sequel to oil spills and tanker accidents in line with the provisions of the Marine Pollution MARPOL Convention and that in line with the blue economy initiative, NIMASA should subject all policies to the test of sustainability and every process that fails this test should either be amended or eliminated.