The national carrier coupled with private initiatives, he said, had put the country on the global shipping map but “unfortunately, due to a multiplicity of factors, this enviable national capacity we used to have does not exist today.
“Nigeria now depends on foreign-owned or foreign-registered vessels to carry our imports and exports, both wet and dry cargoes. And the economic loss to the country is tremendous.”
According to him, the Ministry of Transportation has made several attempts to kick start the process of reviving the national shipping line. He recalled that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, had set up two committees for the purpose and reforming NIMASA.
One of the committees, he said, “was to work on the establishment of a national fleet while the second was to examine the structure of NIMASA.”
The first committee, which he was part of, the celebrant said, was to, among others terms of reference, find out what countries with the sustainable national fleet were doing differently.
“Kuwait, for instance, has over 100 supertankers. Nobody can touch their oil unless they use their ships,” he said, adding that the policy has a positive impact on employment and the socio-economic life of its citizens.
He said the committee also understudied what Greece has done to get the national shipping fleet right and build a globally-renowned business around the sector.
Ogbeifun said the committee also visited the United States and China on a fact-finding.
The major difference between Nigeria and countries that are doing well in the shipping business, according to Starzs CEO, “is the tax regime.