As the slide in price of oil persists, the chairman of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria, SOAN, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, has called for Government’s urgent intervention in the nation’s shipping industry, even as he said that the challenges of indigenous shipping have become more than doubled.
According to him the country’s indigenous shipping heavy involvement in the oil was already dying which has now exacerbated with the price oil.
Saying that a good number of Nigerian shipping companies were presently idle because they were unable to secure contract from the International Oil Companies (IOCs) as a result of the prevailing economic situation, the SOAN he stressed that it had become imperative for the shipowners to synergize with the government on relevant policies especially, on how to shift attention to non- oil export.
He said though thousands of container vessels that were calling and moving out of the Nigerian Ports, there is no single Nigerian ship involved in the shipment of these cargoes.
Ogbeifun emphasised that Government must play a pivotal role by creating opportunities for indigenous ship owners, not only to ensure their survival, but to enable them assist and promote Government’s employment dreams, with the Government offering the indigenous operators the right of first refusal, in the shipment of non-oil exports.
The seasoned Maritime operator pleaded with the Authorities to also see the need to encourage smaller vessels to do transshipment of cargo from Lagos ports to Warri, Onne, Port Harcourt and Calabar port as well as other ports in the neighbouring countries, to reduce container trucks on the roads, while reinvigorating the economy.
“We should begin this initiative without delay. It will reduce the number of containers on the road, boost the economy, create jobs and help in the training of cadets”, he posited, calling on government agencies, especially the Nigerian Shippers Council (NCS), to take the bull by the horn.
“Government has a critical role to play in this regard. Government must encourage the stakeholders to drive the sector, by supporting them like Britain”, adding that while most ship owners prefer to dry dock their vessels within the confines of the routes they operate, it was a pity that up till now, Nigeria has no facility that can be used by a 30,000 ton ships.
“As at today, shipbuilding is relatively non-existent in Nigeria. The building of ships involves enormous amounts of money. At the moment, Nigeria has only one ship building yard located in Onne, Rivers State, while there are other small yards that build barges and fiber glass small personnel- carriers.
“The big shipyards and dockyards capable of meeting the maintenance needs of heavy docking or for serious general ship repairs are not available here,” he noted, adding that the country was thoroughly losing the much revenue it ought to attract, as clients are forced to seek for such services, elsewhere.


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