Despite the laudable investments and growth recorded in some business sectors in Nigeria, indigenous ship owners operating in Nigeria said they continue to face harsh business conditions, with over half the total ship owners said to be out of business.
According to Isaac Jolapamo, the founding and incumbent Chairman of Indigenous Shipowners Association of Nigeria (ISAN), the umbrella industry body of ship owners and operators in Nigeria, about 50 percent of ship owners in Nigeria have been out of business in the past few years. Those still operating are battling to stay afloat owing to huge debts incurred by most firms.
Jolapamo, a maritime industry expert, told a local Nigerian newspaper that lack of access to loans, huge debts and poor business environment have derailed growth in the shipping sector.
Using his business a practical example, Jolapamo who is also the CEO of Morlap Shipping Company Limited said: “I owe banks billions of naira and I have nothing to show for it. I knew about shipping in my 20s, I did star shipping in my 30s and now I’m close to 70 and I haven’t made headway.”
Speaking further, Jolapamo said government and investors have paid little attention to developing the sector and most new entrants into the business are not really contributing to inclusive growth of the shipping business.
“What you have now is a situation where people who have stolen money buy ships to keep the money and use such vessels for their deals. They are not real investors,” he said.
The country’s shipping industry, according to him, is now dominated by foreign ship owners and at the moment. This is fostering discrimination and little opportunities for local ship owners in Nigeria; putting them at a disadvantage. Indigenous shippers are now deprived of good contracts, he added. (Ventures Africa)