The Minister of Transport, Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman, on Tuesday constituted a 12-member committee to work out the modalities that would allow indigenous ship owners to transport crude oil.
Suleiman, who presided over a meeting of the stakeholders in the maritime industry in Lagos, asked the committee to submit its report within two weeks.
The committee comprised representatives of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Indigenous Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Federal Ministry of Finance and two other representatives.
He said that the ministry was making efforts to ensure that indigenous ship owners secure the government’s approval to move crude oil.
Suleiman said that there was the need for the Federal Government and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to approve the shipment of oil based on Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF). The minister said that a lot of money that would have accrued to the coffers of government parastatal agencies got missing through the sale of the crude oil based on Free On Board (FOB).
He said that such sales pattern had led to revenue leakages and stunted growth in the maritime industry.
“We will talk to NNPC to start the process of freight and asked the shipping companies to start carrying bilateral cargoes,” the minister said.
He said the NNPC and Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources had insisted that indigenous ship owners must show that they were capable of effectively handling the cargoes.
Suleiman said that in doing this, government would be very careful to avoid a repeat of what happened during the cargo allocation era.
“If the cargoes are given to indigenous shipping companies, the economy would develop and more job opportunities would be created,” the minister said.
The Chairman of ISAN, Chief Isaac Jolapamo, said that more than 200 ships owned by members of the association, mostly tankers and off-dock supply vessels were old.
Jolapamo recalled that sometime ago, the association asked for a ship repair and refurbishment fund so that some of the old vessels could be repaired, adding that nothing was done by government.
He called for the strict enforcement of the Cabotage law, to enable the government to generate enough revenue that would be put in the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), pointing out that the fund would enable Nigerians to acquire new vessels.