The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency has denied allegations that it has been granting waivers to foreign shipping firms.
The Ship Owners Association of Nigeria had accused NIMASA of ‘unfavourable treatment and injustice’ towards indigenous shipping companies, which gave undue advantage to their foreign competitors.
However, NIMASA denied the accusation at an investigative hearing on urgent need to ensure strict compliance with statutory regulations and provisions regarding the Nigerian diving sector, organised by the Senate Committee on Local Content, on Wednesday.
NIMASA also denied allegations that it was giving preferential treatment to foreign shipping companies in the shipment of petroleum products.
The Director-General, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, denied giving any waiver or preferential treatment to foreign shipping firms.
He said that the agency lacked the power to grant waivers, while the Ministry of Transportation, which was empowered by law to grant waivers had never granted any waiver for 15 years.
Jamoh said, “The 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 waiver.
“As the minister mentioned, if we process, we send it to the Ministry of Transportation for the minister’s consideration and approval; and to the best of my knowledge, for over 15 years, no minister granted waiver.
“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.
“In fact, even though the Act under section 9 (12) gives the Ministers of Transportation powers to approve waivers, they don’t do so because they don’t want to encourage foreign vessels participation over local vessels.”
Chairman of the Senate committee and former Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin, however, cautioned against turning the investigative hearing into an opportunity to trade blames.