The inability of Nigeria to own a National Shipping Line is due to the inability of the indigenous Shipowners to meet up with 60 percent investment required by law.
The minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, had in 2016 at the 14th Maritime Seminar for Judges said the federal government is working on the establishment of a national shipping line to ensure the maximum exploitation of the potential of the maritime industry.
The minister, however, inaugurated members of national Fleet implementation Committee that included the Nigerian Shippers Counci (NSC); Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA); Nigerian Maritime Administrative and Safety Agenency (NIMASA); Mrs. Mfom Usoro; Alhaji Tijani Ramalan and Engr. Olu Akinsoji.
The expanded committee had a terse terms of reference of developing a template for the implementation of the national fleet.
Since serving up of the committee six years ago, there have not been a national shipping line or policy to that effect.
But, the minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi in Benin, Edo State over the weekend blamed stakeholders in the maritime sector for the country’s inability to own a national shipping line.
He said unless Nigerian shipowners provide 60 percent of the investment as required by law, establishing a national shipping line would not be realisable.
The minister said the law required 60 percent of the funding be provided by Nigerians while the remaining 40 percent be contributed by foreigners.
He, however, said the plan has become practically impossible due to the unwillingness of major players in the maritime industry to raise such amount.
Amaechi said though a foreign firm had assured of providing 100 percent of the money required for setting up the shipping line, he vowed not to grant such approval as doing so would amount to flouting the law of the land.
His words, ” For not having a national shipping line, some stakeholders in the maritime sector think that I may not have done well. The law setting up a national shipping line says that Nigerians would provide 60% of the investment and foreigners will provide 40%”
“So, I went to Singapore, got a company that accepted to bring the fourty percent but unfortunately, till today, no Nigerian has been able to provide the remaining sixty percent. The company had said to me that they would bring all the 100% and hire some Nigerians as stakeholders, but I disagreed because that would amount to breaking the law”.
“There is also a company in Dubai that said they would set up the national shipping line by providing the 100% but I have told them that the law only allows them (foreigners) to provide 40%”.
“Unless we amend the law to enable us allow foreigners to own 60% of the investment and employ Nigerians, but as the law is today, there is no way a foreigner can have 100%. As a minister, my job is not to bring the money but to create an enabling environment for buisness to thrive”, Amaechi explained.