The Federal Government on Tuesday said it is working towards re-establishment of the moribund National Shipping Line with a view to targeting the $10billion ship chartering market.
This comes 28 years after its liquidation by former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
Speaking at stakeholders meeting in Lagos, Minister of Marine and Blue Economy Adegboyega Oyetola noted that the initiative will not “impede” the growth of local players in the sector but will rather provide an avenue for them to “create and extract more value from the sector, especially through ship construction, maintenance, and repairs.”
“The ministry’s decision to consider the re-establishment of a National Shipping Line, through a strategic PPP arrangement, is borne out of our desire to capture a substantial share of the estimated $10 billion annual ship charter market within the country,” Oyetola said.
“Let me hasten to say that this initiative will not seek to impede the growth of local players but rather to provide an avenue for them to create and extract more value from the sector, especially through ship construction, maintenance, and repairs. “This would enable our local businesses to better leverage the Carbotage Act, which gives Nigerians the exclusive right to control locally generated seaborne trade.
“I am aware that the sector is very vast with its unique challenges. Nevertheless, let me assure you that I am committed to bequeathing to Nigerians a better sector than we have met today. Our Ministry though new, is not resting on its oars and has continued to foster Inter-Agency collaborations and implement initiatives to
“It is worth noting that this Engagement Forum is crucial to the development of the sector as it offers an opportunity for us all to collectively contribute our perspectives, ideas and offer relevant inputs that can propel the sector to the trajectory of success necessary to support the development of the economy as well as meet the expectations of Mr. President who took the courage to open up Nigeria to focus on the Blue Economy Value Chain.
Maritime workers reject plan
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, has rejected plans by the Federal Government to re-float the Nigeria National Shipping Line, NNSL, saying that the benefits former employees of the defunct NNSL are yet to be paid 28 years after liquidation.
The President-General of MWUN, Prince Adewale Adeyanju, in a statement, said, “The Union is now having a different view of the Minister when he did not speak about the aged seafarers who navigated with the defunct national carrier vessels over the new NNSL proposal.
“The MWUN, whose major challenges have not been resolved over the years with several Ministers of Transportation as regards the settlement of retiree-aged seafarers and other issues confronting the blue economy, which has not been given a clear-cut definition and mode of operation, is still worrisome to the Union as we speak.
“The re-floating of a new NNSL will be a mirage if the retired seafarers, who worked tirelessly with a deep sense of patriotism for the country, are not given their due rights after 28 years of service on the national carrier vessels. This will only amount to human injustice of the highest order. It will also be tantamount to placing the cart before the horse if such a proposition is in the pipeline without first thinking of the aged seafarers.
“We, as a Labour Union, will not sit aloof and watch our aged seafarers continue to suffer unnecessary penury after meritorious years of service to their fatherland. It is true that some of the elderly seafarers have died from various ailments, some from psychological torture and trauma, mental degradation, abject poverty, and so on, that weighed them down in depression.
Ifunanya Ikueze is an Engineer, Safety Professional, Writer, Investor, Entrepreneur and Educator.