The presidential taskforce on maritime set up by President Goodluck Jonathan to work out means of developing the industry has asked the Federal Government to give the right of first refusal for all shipping jobs in the country to local ship owners. Meanwhile some operators have expressed fear over government’s sincerity on the implementation of the recommendation of the taskforce. Disclosing this to Codewit, Managing Director of Molap, Chief Isaac Jolapamo, said the presidential committee made the recommendation to provide direction to government on the way forward for the maritime industry.
According to him, “One of the recommendations of the presidential taskforce on maritime is for Nigerians to be given the right of first refusal option. That is, if there is a maritime job to be done until Nigerians say they cannot do it” before it can be given to a foreign shipping firm. Jolapamo, who is also the Chairman of Indigenous Ship-owners Association of Nigeria (ISAN), expressed worry that it mighty even be difficult for Nigerians to take advantage of that clause if it comes into being. He said a cabal in the sector has been working at breaking their ranks and making them powerless financially. “They know that ISAN is becoming too powerful, so they want to break the ranks of ISAN so that even when government is compelled to do so, it will not even work but we are still striving.”
He also called on the Federal Government to reverse its trade policy which presently makes it possible for foreign ship-owners to dominate shipping business in the country. He stated that the current Fee on Board (FoB) policy deprives an importer the opportunity of determining who ships his goods.
FoB is a trade term requiring the seller to deliver goods on board a vessel designated by the buyer. The seller fulfills his obligations to deliver when the goods have passed over the ship’s rail. When used in trade terms, the word “free” means the seller has an obligation to deliver goods to a designed place for transfer to a carrier.
However, some operators who spoke with us on the issue, expressed fear that despite benefit which such law would have on the nation’s shipping sector, they are not sure the government would be willing to implement it.
They noted that the same fate that befell other laudable government programmes like Cabotage, will also befall it.