Easily one of the most revolutionary legislative enactments since the Forth Republic, the law berthed with high expectations and instinctively exhilarating feelings of self-congratulations and patriotic back-slapping among several stakeholders traversing the maritime sector, the legal community, dedicated and committed legislative activists and concerned Nigerians. Modeled after the Jones Act of in the United States of America which helped develop their indigenous capacity in shipping, the law ten years after its operation, leaves more questions than answers. For instance, there are four major planks of the legislation which were the scaffold for its implementation. They are that: Cabotage vessels must be wholly -owned by Nigerians; they must be registered in Nigeria, must be crewed by Nigerian citizens and built in Nigerian shipyards. Of these lofty ideals, none seems to have been met. Regarding the mandate that cabotage vessels must be wholly owned by Nigerians, the law not only has failed in this respect, but has very conspicuously been unable to even marginally enhance the participation of indigenous operators in coastal shipping.

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The Guardian Lagos By Sulaimon Salau When the Coastal and Inland Shipping, otherwise known as Cabotage Act was conceptualised in , stakeholders in the maritime industry were agog that the regulation would herald a new dawn in the domestic shipping business and particularly empower indigenous operators to own ships and operate without intimidation from their foreign counterpart, but 16 years after, the implementation has become a herculean task for the regulator.

Several enlightenment, orientation, persuasion and threats appears to have fallen off the ears of the violators of the act, while the domestic shipping operators continued to groan under an unpalatable operating environment dominated by foreign shipping firms. The vessel has since been released after about 10 days detention. But as the dust settles, the lesson for stakeholders cannot be lost. The Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage Act , which came into force in , aims "primarily to reserve the commercial transportation of goods and services within Nigerian coastal and inland waters to vessels flying the Nigerian flag, owned and crewed by Nigerian citizens, and built in Nigeria.

The guidelines proved to be a useful tool for the operation and implementation of the Cabotage Act. The Agency last month commenced a clampdown on vessels that did not conform to the Cabotage compliance strategy. Director-General, NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, who announced the clampdown, also said the Agency would no longer encourage the application of waivers under the Cabotage Act, particularly in relation to the oil firms, saying such waivers have adverse consequences on the maritime sector and the economy.

There shall be no sacred cow when we commence clampdown on erring vessels. Charterers of foreign vessels have not claimed ignorance of the provisions of the cabotage law as it affects foreign vessels. What often seems to be their excuse, according to informed sources within the industry, is that the technical and safety standards for the operation of some of the vessels are so high that it is hard to get Nigerians with the required knowhow to man the vessels. While most stakeholders agree on the need to maintain high standards so that Nigerian-flagged vessels can compete favourably with others abroad, what seems to be the point of divergence is how to get the persons with the needed competences.

There is always a high temptation to choose the convenient way out, which is employing expatriates to man the ships. However, NIMASA has been at the forefront of advocate for a long-term economically beneficial solution of training Nigerians to man the Cabotage vessels. The Agency has trained more than 2, Nigerians under the Nigeria Seafarers Development Programme and it has pursued the issue of sea-time training for the graduates through full sponsorship of their placement on ships, in partnership with some international institutions that have access to ocean going training vessels.

Already, about cadets have done their on-board sea time training under the first phase of the NIMASA fully-sponsored sea time training programme, facilitated alongside the Arab Academy of Science, Technology and Marine Transportation in Alexandria, Egypt.

Onboard training for another 89 cadets was facilitated by the South Tyneside College, UK, making a total of cadets in the first phase of the programme. The number of Nigerian seafarers placed onboard vessels last year was about 2,, representing a This has meant significant job opportunities and economic empowerment for the citizens.

In alone, NIMASA issued 3, certificates to successful seafarers, representing a per cent increase from the figures. The agency has made significant progress in the manning aspect of the Cabotage law implementation, with MAN producing the required middle level manpower for the maritime industry and NSDP supplying the high-end manpower requirements.

In addition, the Agency is collaborating with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board to do a five-year skills demand programme, which would give the Agency deeper insight into the manpower needs of the industry. The ship ownership, registration, and flagging aspects of the Cabotage law have received a boost, with an increase in the number of wholly Nigerian owned vessels on the Cabotage register. The half year result showed that vessels were registered, representing a 33 per cent increase when compared with the 94 registered in the corresponding period in Currently, there are more than vessels captured in the Cabotage register.

In ship building, many vessels have not been built in the country because of the shortage of steel and aluminum, but NIMASA has launched an audit of shipyards in the country, in conjunction with Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, to see how they can be assisted to improve capacity. The aim is to ensure that most of the vessels in Nigeria are built in the country.



It also prayed the court to say whether on a proper interpretation of the Cabotage Act — particularly sections 2, 5 and 22 5 — drilling rigs fall within the definition of vessel under the Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage Act. Counsel for the Plaintiff argued that drilling operations were simply limited to oil production and this had no relation to the carriage of goods and passengers within Nigerian waters, which had been defined as coastal trade and cabotage under s 2 of the Act. The Plaintiff further argued that s 22 5 of the Act expressly included certain vessels that were eligible for cabotage registration under the Act. Akinyeye further argued that the nature and functions of The West Capella satisfied the three elements required to be fulfilled under s 2 of the Act for the purpose of classifying an oil rig as a vessel.


Oil rig is a vessel under Cabotage Act, court rules

Nigeria aspires to be amongst the top 20 largest economies by the year according to the economic policy of Vision and successful implementation of the Cabotage Laws in Nigeria is critical to the success or otherwise of the plan because of the important role shipping plays in not just the movement of goods and services around the country and the revenues collected as tax from companies in the sector. The ACT would also catalyze the growth and development of the transportation sector due to the over dependence of the nation on road transportation and the consequent damage of the roads since the collapse of the railway system in Nigeria. Other benefit of the ACT also includes creation of employment opportunities, development of inland waterway depot and technology transfer in the areas of repair and building of vessels in the country. Do you seek shipping and maritime opportunities in Nigeria ,want to the full cabotage ACT or you just want to know more about the subject matter as it affects Nigeria, Please do visit our sister website www. Should you require a market research report, please do contact us.


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