The Federal Government has expressed its readiness to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) to enable indigenous shipping operators compete favorably with their international counterparts.
Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo who disclosed this on Friday when he visited the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Area Office in Port Harcourt, Rivers State said the ministry has put in place machinery to make sure that shipowners benefit from the cabotage fund before the end of the year.
The CVFF is an intervention fund created by the Federal Government for the development of indigenous shipping capacity in Nigeria to enable them maintain existing vessels or purchase new ones.
But till date, more than 19 years ago, the over $350million which has accrued into the fund has yet to be disbursed to any shipowner.
Describing the CVFF as a low hanging fruit, the Minister said it would support maritime activities which is the gateway to the nation’s economy, adding that “if we get our acts right, the maritime industry can replace the revenue from the oil”
“This is a fund that was established under the Cabotage Act in order to build domestic capacity, I want to say it here, that it is indeed a low hanging fruit, I will do anything within my power to make sure that fund is disbursed to Nigerians as quickly as possible so that Nigerian shipowners can increase capacity as well as generate a welfare instead of patronising foreign ships and money from such business is taken out of the hands of Nigerians rendering us jobless.
“So, I want to assure the maritime community that I have already put in place machinery to make sure that we take benefit of the CVFF before the end of the year by the grace of God,” the minister said.
While answering questions from newsmen at the BUA Ports and Terminal Limited, situated at the Rivers Port, the Minister expressed delight at the progress of work, saying: “we are making good progress, bringing this place to a world standard,” but urged the operators to ensure completion by 2025.
Furthermore, the Minister assured that as part of the railway modernization policy, rail lines would be linked to the seaports for effective and efficient haulage of cargoes.
The Minister was accompanied on the trip by the Director, Finance and Accounts, FMT, Umaru Hassan who represented the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, Directors, MSD, Legal Services, Rail, Press, Babatunde Sule, Pius Oteh, Jimoh Yusfu, Eric Ojiekwe, respectively.
Others were: Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello-Koko, Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria and the Registrar, Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding, in Nigeria, Sam Nwakohu among others.