It has been observed that failure of the federal government to establish funding sources for Maritime industry has hampered indigenous participation in the local content regime of the cabotage act.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of J.D International Shipping Agency, Chief Joe Ubaka made the observation on Wednesday during an interview with The Tide at the Port Harcourt Port Complex.
According to him, there is the Bank of Industry (BOI) created specifically to fund the industrial sector and the Nigerian Agricultural Co-operative and Rural Development Bank also created to fund the agricultural sector, but wondered why maritime sector is left out of the scheme.
He noted that there is a public outcry in the sector that foreigners have taken over the maritime operations in Nigeria. This, he said, is largely because of the huge amount of money involved in the business. “Indigenous operators are poor and can not have access to funds, the banks are not giving loans any more, even when they were lending, the 25 percent interest rate charged by banks is quite on the high side and does not encourage local-content participation, it rather paves way for foreigners to monopolise the sector to their own advantage”, he lamented.
Chief Ubaka urged the federal government to create avenue for Nigeria ship owners and indigenous maritime operators to have access to loans, saying that no amount of policy framework can be effectively implemented without access to fund. He pointing out that the local content policy of the cabotage Act can not be fully effective because most of the indigenous operators can not meet the required international standard due to lack of funds, a situation, he said that requires urgent attention by the government.
He maintained that the maritime industry remains one of the highest employers of labour and if an enabling environment is created for the sector to boom more jobs would be created for the unemployed youths.