The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside, has disclosed that the agency is discussing with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to create a special interest rate for maritime assets acquisition in Nigeria.
Peterside, who made this known during the Maritime Stakeholders’ Interactive forum in Calabar, Cross Rivers State recently, said NIMASA was committed to opening new frontiers for potential investors in the sector.
He noted that other industries such as the textile and manufacturing industry are already enjoying same arrangement with the CBN and that it would be beneficial for maritime to also enjoy same opportunity in order to grow Nigeria’s economy.
“We are committed to providing opportunities for investors through public and private partnership. This applies especially to investments in maritime infrastructure, shipping and ancillary services, offshore services, ship building repairs as well as marine and bunkering services. In this regard, we are engaging the Central Bank of Nigeria to create a special interest rate for maritime infrastructure development and maritime assets acquisition in Nigeria this is aside looking at the early disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds,” he said.
Speaking further, he said there are enormous potential that remain untapped in the country’s maritime sector.
He noted that the ports located in the Eastern flank of the country comprising Calabar, Port-Harcourt and Onne, are key to Nigeria’s economic development and that all hands must be on deck to ensure that the Ports function optimally.
“For us to harness our maritime potential the ports in the Eastern flank must be fully utilised. The eastern zone is the most critical because out of the seven functional seaports in Nigeria three are domiciled in the eastern zone and it also harbours over 70 per cent of the 275 terminals that are in the country but unfortunately in terms of cargo reception there is no corresponding relationship between the facilities available and the reception of cargoes because the eastern zone accounted for less than 20 per cent of the vessels that visited the Nigerian ports in 2016 and 2017,” he said.
He added, “Available statistics shows that there is need for serious collaboration with stakeholders in the sector to ensure that the environment is made conducive enough for continuous growth that is premised on sustainable development devoid of threats such as piracy and other maritime crimes.”
Earlier in his address the chairman of the Governing Board of NIMASA, Major Gen Jonathan Garba (rtd) said that the eastern zonal area has a lot to offer the Nigerian economy in terms of shipping. He added that all stakeholders should support the agency as it strives to create an enabling environment for maritime to thrive in Nigeria.
The Managing Director of Starz Marine, Greg Ogbeifun commended the Peterside led management on the sensitisation and awareness that the agency is creating to drive investors into the maritime sector. On his part, a former Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Captain Adamu Biu said that the government was not totally responsible for the previous stagnation of the maritime sector. He said that it was time for stakeholders to support NIMASA to bring the much needed development to the maritime sector.
The Secretary General of the Abuja MoU, Mfon Usoro who was the lead speaker delivered a paper titled: “Harnessing Maritime Potential in an Untapped Environment: Opportunities, Threats and the Role of Government.”