Dakuku Peterside, director general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has said that the agency is perfecting arrangement with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to create a special interest rate on funds meant for the acquisition of maritime assets.
BusinessDay understands that the idea was prompted by the desire to create cheap funds for investors in the nation’s shipping sector, who have been discouraged from investing in shipping due to the high cost of credit facilities from Nigeria’s commercial banks.
Speaking at a maritime stakeholders’ interactive forum held in Calabar, Cross Rivers State on Monday, Peterside disclosed that manufacturers are already enjoying such arrangement with the CBN, adding that, it would be beneficial for maritime sector to also enjoy same opportunity in order to grow Nigeria’s shipping business and economy at large.
“We are committed to providing opportunities for investors in areas such as maritime infrastructure, shipping and ancillary services, offshore services, ship building and repairs as well as marine and bunkering services. This is why we are engaging the CBN to create a special interest rate for maritime infrastructural development through the creation of affordable funding for the acquisition of maritime assets in Nigeria. This would be aside from looking at the early disbursement of the funds accumulated in the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF),” he said.
According to him, there are enormous potentials that have remained untapped in the nation’s maritime sector. “The Ports located in the Eastern flank of the country comprising of Calabar, Port-Harcourt and Onne holds the key to Nigeria’s economic development. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to ensure that they function optimally.
“The eastern zone is the most critical because out of the seven functional seaports in Nigeria, three are domiciled in the eastern zone and it also harbors over 70 percent of the 275 terminals that are in the country. Unfortunately, in terms of cargo reception, there is no corresponding relationship between the facilities available and the reception of cargoes because the eastern zone accounted for less than 20 percent of the vessels that visited the Nigerian ports in 2016 and 2017,” Peterside added.
He further said that the available statistics shows that there was need for serious collaboration with stakeholders in the sector to ensure that the environment is made conducive for continuous and sustainable development, devoid of threats such as piracy and other maritime crimes.
Jonathan India Garba, chairman of the Governing Board of NIMASA, said that the eastern part of the country has a lot to offer the Nigerian economy in terms of shipping. He called on all stakeholders to support NIMASA as it strives to create an enabling environment for maritime to thrive in Nigeria.
On his part, Adamu Biu, former executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) said that the government was not totally responsible for the previous stagnation in the maritime sector. He however said that it was time for stakeholders to support NIMASA to bring the much needed development to the maritime sector.