NNPC Should Allow Indigenous Shippers to Participate in Cargo Carriage – Omatseye

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TEMISAN Omatseye, a lawyer, grassroots politician, is the former Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and currently the president, African Ship Owners Association, ASA. He was full of smiles as he welcomes the editor-in-chief to his residence for this interview. He speaks on a wide range of issues in this interview. Excerpt:

By Ovie Edomi

We have the Nigerian Indigenous Ship Owners Association, and the African Ship Owners Association. Do you have similar goals?

The goals are the same but while one is limited to Nigeria, the other which is the African Ship Owners Association is a continental affairs. It is a body of ship owners in Africa who are desirous of taking charge as well as being able to provide vessels required to bring goods across the continent.

Shipping business in Nigeria is still largely dominated by foreigners in spite of the provision of the Cabotage law. What is responsible for this?

The problem has to do not only with the individual, it has to do with the political will. We need the political will to implement the laws that we have actually passed. We need to get to a situation where the laws have to be implemented. At the moment, the same people who ought to be kept out of the industry are still the same people that are in charge.

Does that in a way imply that Cabotage policy has failed?

In the tanker business there are close to 95 percent foreign dominance. It is not different in other areas. So it has failed in terms of implementation.

What did you do while you were Director-General to ensure that Cabotage worked?

You will recall that l was there for only 18 months. The initial period of my assumption of office was used to put square pegs in square holes knowing that the former National Maritime Authority, as it was known then, had been converted to NIMASA and there was the need to focus on internal reorganisation and change the mindset of the workforce in order for them to be prepared for the new task of enforcement.

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