By Aisha Cole
Lagos – Dr Dakuku Peterside, the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), on Wednesday said that over 60 per cent of workers onboard vessels operating under the Cabotage regime were Nigerians.
Peterside said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
NAN reports that the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act was enacted in 2003 to encourage more Nigerian participation in the maritime sector.
Peterside said that before 2003, less than three per cent of vessels operating in Nigerian waters were “flagged Nigerian’’.
“Now we have over 60 per cent vessels doing business in Nigerian waters flying the Nigerian flag.
“Nigeria has been able to achieve 20 per cent in building of Cabotage vessels from a completely foreign-dominated era.
“The present Management of NIMASA aimed to target 100 per cent Cabotage compliance in the nearest future,’’ Peterside said.
The NIMASA chief said that the agency “is addressing issues militating against the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund for the fund to be fully accessible”.
According to him, Nigerian-flagged vessels have also enjoyed significant growth in the last 12 months.
He said that 262 vessels with a total tonnage of slightly over 232,000 were registered in 2015.
The director- general said the number of vessels registered in 2016 almost doubled the ones registered in 2015.
He said that 370 vessels were registered in 2016 with total tonnage of 420,000.
Dakuku said that 1,045 trainees had graduated from the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) representing 42 per cent of the 2,500 that NIMASA sponsored in the scheme.
According to him, 226 beneficiaries graduated from Arab University in Egypt, 76 from South Tyneside, Newcastle in England, and 743 graduated from various partner universities in the Philippines.
He said that NIMASA had discovered that non-inclusion of sea-time training in the NSDP programme was a challenge.
The director-general said the agency had been having discussions to engage the graduate cadets on sea time training.
Peterside said that NIMASA was having fruitful discussions with schools in Egypt and Newcastle to directly facilitate sea time training for graduate cadets.
He said that only five Nigerians were onboard seagoing vessels, while the Philippines had over half a million seafarers.
Peterside said that NIMASA’s goal was ultimately to domesticate training of seafarers in Nigeria.