Thursday, October 29, 2020

I don’t know anything about exemptions for foreign vessels

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… How the Senate summons Amaechi, Director General of NIMASA on exemption for foreign vessels

Transportation MINISTER Rotimi Amaechi said on Thursday that he is not aware of any exemptions granted to foreign vessel operators.

Speaking in Abuja today when he appeared before the Senate Joint Committee on Local Content, Downstream Petroleum and Legislative Compliance, he said he was not aware of any exemptions granted to vessels by the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Security Agency, NIMASA .

The Committee is investigating the infringement of Nigerian laws by foreign vessels in the coastal transport of petroleum products in the downstream sector of the Nigerian maritime industry.

Meanwhile, the Senate has summoned Amaechi and NIMASA Director General Dr. Bashir Yusuf Jamoh to appear before the committee to respond to the issue of the waiver.

Speaking further, Amaechi said: “I have never interfered with the governance process of any structure that I oversee. So if NIMASA says I know what they’re doing, I don’t know.

“I saw it when they wrote to me and told me that I should respond to the Senate. I have not approved any. He (the CEO) should come to me if he wants the waiver approved. This is nothing on my table from 2015 to today, I do not have any exemptions on my table.

“First they claimed that none had been broadcast; You didn’t even know until recently that you had to issue a waiver.

“For you to know as a minister, the CEO is supposed to write to the minister for approval. And now no request for approval is on my table or has been on my table from 2015 to today. “

On whether there was such a request for exemptions in the ministry before he became minister, the transport minister said he had not verified it, adding: “I have not verified it. I have to confirm this by asking the Permanent Secretary to do a study to see if there were any before coming.

“But from the day I took office in 2016 until today, I have never seen any applications. In 2010, 168 people applied for exemptions that I did not have; 2011, 208 applied not before me, 2012, 333 people, 2013, 448, 2014, 377, 2015, 413 people applied.

“I came in 2016. In that year, 374 people applied but I didn’t see their application.”

Amaechi, who pledged to work with the National Assembly Committee to ensure that Nigerians get the maximum benefits in such relationships, said: “First, there is a need to call NIMASA and see what is going on, what is the status of vessels that are operating in Nigeria

“The basics of the Nigerian waterway are not even those foreigners. It is the level of insecurity and the fact that the National Assembly has refused to pass the law that approves the installation of coast guards that would have been the saving grace of all of them.

“It is the coast guard that would have discovered who is operating and who is not.”

Earlier, the chairman of the Senate Local Content Committee, Senator Teslim Folarin, APC, Oyo Central, who recalled that in December 2019, the Senate debated a motion, said: “The motion was titled“ Urgent Need to Investigate Violation of Nigerian Laws by Foreign Vessels and Coastal Transportation of Petroleum Products in the Downstream Sector of Nigerian Maritime Industry, sponsored by Senator Olamilekan Mustspha.

According to him, the committee was mandated to carry out an investigation with a view to unraveling the influx of foreign vessels into the coastal region and the level of patronage of Nigerian shipping companies.

Folarin said another mandate of the Committee was to Investigate the blatant abuse of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act of 2010 and the Cabotage Act of 2003, respectively, by operators and stakeholders in the transfer of foreign coastal vessels from the maritime industry.

“Investigate foreign freight associated with subsequent activities repatriated abroad by the NNPC to the detriment of the local economy or patronage.”

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