The Director-General, NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh has dismissed as false, allegations that agency has been granting waivers to foreign shipping firms in the shipment of petroleum products.
Jamoh made this clarification during an investigative hearing titled ‘Urgent need to ensure strict compliance with statutory regulations and provisions regarding the Nigerian diving sector’, organized by the Senate Committee on Local Content.
In its petition the Senate, the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria is asking for an urgent intervention in what it described as ‘unfavourable treatment and injustice’ towards indigenous shipping companies, which gave undue advantage to their foreign competitors.
While denying giving any waiver or preferential treatment to foreign firms, the NIMASA boss said that the agency lacked the power to grant waivers and the Ministry of Transportation, which was empowered by law to grant waivers had never granted any for 15 years.
He stated that the operation of the Cabotage Act provides that NIMASA has the responsibility under Section 5 (2) to 5 (4) to process waiver and not to grant waiver. NIMASA never grants waiver, but only processes it and send to the Ministry of Transportation for the minister’s consideration and approval.
Explaining further, he said, “Even though the Act under section 9 (12) gives the Minister of Transportation powers to approve waivers, they don’t do so because they don’t want to encourage foreign vessels participation over local vessels.
“So, if the shipping companies or ship owners take waiver processing fee payment as waiver, we shouldn’t call it waiver. NIMASA doesn’t give waiver and I want anybody to come and present waiver given by NIMASA or Ministry of Transportation.”
Cautioning the stakeholders against trading blames, the Chairman of the Committee and former Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin said, “The whole essence of this investigative hearing is not to trade blames. We understand that they don’t have enough vessels; they don’t have capacity, but the capacity cannot come from heaven.”