Indigenous Shipowners Scamper For $100m Cabotage Fund

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Following the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) guidelines prepared by the federal government and approved by the National Assembly, about 92 applicants have indicated interest to access the much awaited $100 million fund.

Impeccable source told The Tide that the 92 applicants who are mainly indigenous shipowners that have the statutory right to access the funds under the CVFF guidelines have already filed their applications through the four Primary Lending Institutions (PLIs) selected by the management of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

The PLIs which are commercial banks expected to guarantee successful disbursement and utilisation of funds, comprise Skye Bank Plc, Equatorial Trust Bank Plc (ETB), Diamond Bank Plc, and Fidelity Bank Plc.

A breakdown of the figures showed that not fewer than 23 applicants applied to access the CVFF through Diamond Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc and Equatorial Bank Plc, while 22 applied through Fidelity Bank.

It was gathered that while total request by applicants amount to a whopping &1 billion, the four PLIs have only about $100 million to give out as loan.

Though most of the applicants are ship owners who are also members of the Indigenous Shipowners Association of Nigeria (ISAN), some of the applicants are “portfolio earning ship owners” fronting for top politicians in the corridors of power who also want a piece of the cake.

It was further gathered that the $100 million would be pooled together by the management of NIMASA, commercial banks and the benefiting shipping companies, in the ratio of 50 per cent, 35 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.

The Tide source said that the Director General of NIMASA, Temisanre Raymond Omatseye, who confirmed the development, stated that the level of funding that is available to indigenous ship-owners is a hindrance to fleet expansion and capacity development. Omatseye noted that paucity of funds has made shipping business a difficult venture in the country. He explained that the management of the agency has concluded plans to encourage access to offshore facilities.

His words “we have accessed $200 million and it is available to Nigerian shipowners right now. However, you know that as a government agency, we cannot go ahead and support this kind of thing without the approval  the relevant authorities we are in the process of securing the approval” He said that the agency is guaranteeing, saying that it was only a pool of fund, which will be added to the maritime infrastructural fund.