The motion sponsor asserted that thousands of jobs will be created if the Cabotage Act is fully implemented.
The House of Representatives has directed its committees on Ports and Harbors, Maritime Services, and Shippers Council to immediately swing into action and investigate the low implementation of the Cabotage Act.
This resolution is contained in a motion sponsored by Rep. Awaji Abiante (PDP, Rivers) on Tuesday.
Abiante, in his debate, noted that the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act, 2003 was enacted by the National Assembly to restrict the use of foreign vessels in domestic coastal trade, assist in promoting the development of indigenous tonnage, and establish a vessel financing fund.
He added that the Act served to stimulate, empower, and reposition indigenous shipping companies for active participation in the Sub-Saharan shipping activities, while its main objective was to protect indigenous shipping companies and create economic and employment opportunities for Nigerians in the Maritime sector.
He, however, observed that after twenty (20) years of the enactment of the law, the shipping trade is still dominated by foreign-owned vessels.
The lawmaker noted that on 25 June 2023, at the International Maritime Organization Day of the Seafarers celebration, the Joint Body of the Seafarer’s Professional Groups (NSPG) said that “the Nation’s maritime industry is losing $100 billion annually due to the inability of the Federal Government to implement the Cabotage Act.”
He further related that the Secretary General of the Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria, Captain Alfred Oniye, informed the gathering that most of the jobs that are supposed to be handled by Nigerian Seafarers are being occupied by foreigners thus, rendering 80% of Nigerian Seafarers jobless.
Abiante, who linked this to the low implementation of the Cabotage Act by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, and others involved in maritime activities, warned that the nation’s economy and job creation are being seriously threatened by this.
Abiante posited that if the Cabotage Act is fully implemented, it will create thousands of jobs for Nigerians because ships would be built locally and owned by Nigerians.