Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, the Minister of Transportation, has assured Nigerian shipowners that the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMoT) will not renege on the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund.
Sambo disclosed this at the investiture of Aminu Umar as the 7th President of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping Lagos.
Recall that the House of Representatives had asked the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency to stop its plan to disburse the fund.
The members directed the Committee on Local Content to commence investigations of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund to determine all monies that have accrued to the fund since its establishment in the year 2003 and report to the House within 14 days.
Reacting to this, Sambo admitted that the position of the House is in line with the standard practice of inquiry and due diligence.
“Subsequently, against all odds, we got the presidential approval to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund. All machinery was in motion to disburse it in the first week of April, through the selected financial institutions in line with the Cabotage Act and approved regulations but the disbursement of the fund is delayed presently by an inquiry from the House of Representatives,” he said.
The Minister said his team has been meeting with the members of the House to harmonise perspectives which will lead to the disbursement of the funds in the coming days and there is ‘no going back’.
He said the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping has secured the maximum participation of its members in Nigeria’s domestic and international trade.
“It excites me, that this organization which has been led by great Nigerians over the years has grown to become an umbrella body for all stakeholders in the Maritime/Shipping industry in Nigeria and secures for its members, maximum participation in Nigeria’s domestic and international trade.
“The unique position attained by this Chamber in the Nigerian Maritime Industry as a bridge between stakeholders and policymakers has become the first African member organization to be admitted into the board of the International Chamber of Shipping, which has brought this organization closer to the international maritime community, is worthy of commendation,” he said.
Sambo revealed that a few months ago, upon assuming office as the Minister of Transportation, he decided to go after the proverbial low-hanging fruits that will positively impact the Maritime landscape in a short time.
“We took a thorough assessment of projects in all parastatals under the Ministry and we made a list of deliverables within the time frame we have, and we put in the will and resources to achieve them. It may interest you to know that, without knowing the proponents behind the Badagry Seaport, reading through the memorandum and being convinced that it will further boost shipping activities in Nigeria, we presented it to the Federal Executive Council at our maiden appearance and got immediate approval,” he explained.
He said the ministry under his watch fast-tracked the goal of bringing shipping closer to the hinterlands of Nigeria through the established policy of Inland Dry Ports (IDPs).
“To this end, the inland dry ports of Dala in Kano, Kano state and Funtua in Katsina state were declared as ports of origin and final destination, following the completion of all necessary infrastructure at the two locations,” he said.
The Minister said that within a short time, the Lekki Deep Seaport was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Just two days ago, the Federal Government approved the development of the Ilaje Deep Seaport in Ondo State, Snake Island in Lagos and the Burutu Port in Delta State. These ports are to be executed through Public -Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements.
Sambo said the ministry has gotten approval for a cargo tracking scheme for all imports and exports across all borders, land and sea.
“The electronic cargo tracking note which is an official marine waiver certificate document required by several African countries to effectively control and manage import/export traffic has come to stay,” he said.
The Minister said the scheme will block revenue leakages and provide transparency in cargo invoicing, adding that it will abet the problem of under-declaration, concealment, and wrong classification of cargo.
According to him, “The unique position attained by this chamber in the Nigerian Maritime industry as a bridge between stakeholders and policymakers has become the first African member organisation to be admitted into the board of the International Chamber of Shipping, which has brought this organisation closer to the international maritime community, is worthy of commendation.”
He charged the incoming president of the Chamber to imbibe teamwork because together can do more than working alone.
“The success of the team inaugurated today will be achieved through collaboration, among many other factors. Change the narrative, build on the achievements of your predecessors and make the Nigerian Chamber of shipping an enviable organisation.
He pledged the support of the Federal Ministry of Transportation to the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping especially the newly inaugurated leadership.