Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), who also Chair the Implementation Committee for the new national fleet; has cleared the air over misrepresentation about the true nature and form of the shipping line.
Bello revealed this last week that government is about selecting a Transaction Adviser and that ahead of this, a consortium of banks have already given their backing to the national fleet project.
He said that the clarification has become necessary so as not to equate what the Federal Government is working on with the defunct national carrier; the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL).
He acknowledged that because of the experience of the past where the NNSL and subsequent efforts failed, there is need to be circumspect and also clarify the status of the new project.
“It is a private sector-driven business venture, it is going to be driven purely a business enterprise with equities and structure totally spelt out.
You can now see that it cannot be a national carrier in the mode of the NNSL, it’s a totally different arrangement”, he explained.
Specifically, he mentioned the African Development Bank (AfDB) and African Export Import Bank (AFREXIM) as two leading global banks that are also into the national fleet project with the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“We want to seek a tax holiday for the company when it takes-off; it should have concessions, so as give it a good upstart. Nigerian investors will have 60% equity, while our partners; PIL will hold 40%”, NSC Boss stated.
He added that the 60% equity owned by Nigeria will be offered to investors, who must not necessarily be ship owners.
“But our preference is for ship owners”, he assured.
“What is most important is that we cannot have a national fleet that is not sustainable, there must be ship repair, ship building and so on, so that Nigerian ships will not need to go to Hong Kong, we are also looking at reforms at NIMASA, its already reforming its ship registry, we are also looking at issues about manpower.
A committee has just been constituted by the Honourable Minster to reorganise Maritime Academy of Nigeria in Oron”.
He also assured that by the second quarter of this year, there would have been a significant achievement and direction in which the national fleet will go.
The emphasis should not be on when it would kick-off, but on how to have a shipping line and that will succeed, Bello noted.