• From AKPAN ETTEH in Calabar•
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are collaborating on modalities to provide special funds to help unlock the nation’s maritime sector.
The funds, which will be modelled after similar incentives in other sectors of the economy is aimed at unlocking the huge potentials in the sector which is largely untapped by local entrepreneurs.
This was disclosed by the Director General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside during a one day stakeholders interactive forum organised by the agency with the theme: Harnessing maritime potentials in an untapped environment: opportunities, threats and the role of the government.
He said the intervention is necessary because the maritime sector in the country is vastly endowed and has the potentials to generate substantial revenue for the country but the country is yet to maximise these potentials due to the absence of such intervention.
“We are currently engaging with the CBN to provide a special interest rate so that our indigenous operators can bring in vessels into the country as well as create a special fund to support industry operators acquire vessels.
“We are aware that the bank has set aside funds in other sectors. We know about the CBN support for the real sector where the bank is supporting manufacturing concerns.
“We are aware of the anchor borrowers programme where it is supporting small-scale farmers and link them up with other off-takers around the world. We are also aware of the special textile fund for the textile industry.
“But unfortunately, the maritime sector has the capacity to employ more persons than the textile industry, manufacturing sectors but the CBN is not offering the maritime sector any.
“So that is the basis we are engaging with them and I want to inform this house that we are making tremendous progress.
“Besides, we are fast-tracking the process of reviewing the guidelines for disbursing the Cabotage Fund so that through this, more contributions can be made for the growth of the industry thereby creating jobs for our people”, he said.
He said in the past couple of years, NIMASA has improved the security of the nation’s waterways by achieving over 80% compliance ISPS Code.
This he said implies that the nation’s waterways are almost 100% safe and presently Nigeria is one of the topmost ISPS compliant nations in Africa.
Furthermore, the agency has for the first time published the nation’s maritime industry forecast to guide investors and are also engaging with the NNPC towards getting indigenous players to lift cargo. This policy according to him will enhance the sector and create enormous employment opportunities.
Speaking earlier, the chairman of the occasion as well as the governing board of NIMASA, General Jonathan Marawa said the forum was aimed at reviewing the extent the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) has impacted on the growth of the sector particularly the Eastern ports.