Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Indigenous Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (ISAN) have agreed to work closely to check the activities of foreign-flagged vessels which have consistently exploited the inefficiency in enforcement of the Coastal and Inland shipping (Cabotage) Act.
The two organisations which signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Lagos, realised that to effectively implement the cabotage law in Nigeria collaboration between NIMASA, the implementing agency and stakeholders, particularly ISAN, is required.
Over the years, foreign vessels have continued to operate in contravention of the Nigerian Cabotage Act with apparent assistance for some corrupt government officials resulting in the deprivation of indigenous shipping operators whom the law was made to empower.
Both NIMASA and ISAN see this new partnership through the MoU as a development that would further boost the current efforts to ensure effective implementation of the cabotage regime in Nigeria.
“We are all aware of the challenge cabotage operators are facing in Nigeria due to the activities of owners of foreign – flagged vessels who deliberately contravene the law,” said Tenisan Omatseye , Director-General of NIMASA during the signing ceremony.
Speaking further, he said, “we hope that working together will help curb the activities of the non cabotage complaint vessels.” He expressed hope that only cabotage complaint vessels will operate Nigerian coastal waters just as he informed ISAN that NIMASA has issued a detention order on a foreign vessel, MT SEFINA for flouting the provisions of the Cabotage Act in Warri, Delta State.
The chairman of ISAN, Isaac Jalapamo said Nigerian ship owners need to work closely with NIMASA for the Cabotage Act to be effectively implemented.
It will be recalled that ISAN carried out series of arrest of foreign flagged vessels that contravened cabotage law last year when it appeared the Maritime administration was less concerned about the implication of foreign domination of coastal trade on the development of indigenous shipping.
Six vessels were arrested in quick succession and arraigned in court, which eventually convicted one of the vessels, MT Lovell Sea, early in the year.