The Speaker of Nigeria House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal has said that the amendment of the Cabotage Act would check revenue leakages in the sector. Tambuwal, who was represented by the Chief Whip of the house, Rep Ishaka Bawa, said this at a public hearing on the amendment of the Cabotage Act, 2003.
The hearing was organised by the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Marine Transport and Justice. The bill seeks to amend the Act to broaden the scope of the interpretation of the Act for the purpose of effective implementation. He said that the amendment of the Act would also enhance maritime security and create employment opportunities for Nigerians. “By capturing these operations, we will not only expand the employment opportunities for our people, enhance maritime security, but also capture a lot of national leakages, “he said. The highlight of the amendment is a bid to expand the jurisdiction of cabotage to cover all the marine activities of our coastline, particularly oil and has operation,“ he said.
The speaker noted that the sector was one of the sectors used to perpetuate fraudulent activities. Alhaji Idris Umar, Minister of Transport in his contribution expressed optimism that that the amendment would impact positively on the revenue accruable into the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF). He was represented by Mr Nebolisa Emodi, Permanent Secretary in the ministry. The minister said that the amendment was intended to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity to Nigerian operators in the domestic coastal shipping.
Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi, Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Security Agency (NIMASA) said that key provision of the Act should be reviewed for easy implementation. He said that if the sector was well organised, it would create employment opportunity for the youths and urged the House to effect the necessary changes required to enhance the operations of the sector. Mr Isaac Jolapomo, President, Indigenous Ship Owners Association (ISA), said that the Act had been ineffective due to poor implementation. He called for stiffer penalties of N200 million and forfeiture of ship, five year- jail term instead of the current N 10 million for offenders.