FG seeks loan to float new national carrier

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By Vera Ermosele –

There are fresh indications that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi may have approached the African Export-Import Bank as well as other international funding organisations for loan to secure the 60% stake of Nigerian ship owners in the proposed new national carrier.

Recall that the Minister had led a delegation of Nigerians including ship owners and other maritime experts to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Pacific International Lines (PIL) on the proposed fleet.

In the agreement, Nigerian ship owners are to own 60 percent stake of the joint venture while PIL will own 40 percent.

But speaking yesterday, a member of the implementation committee on the establishment of the proposed national carrier, Eng. Olu Akinsoji said that Nigerian ship owners may be having a challenge coming up with the 60 percent equity of the joint venture.

He said the committee is presently seeking the assistance of international financial institutions who he said have pledged their commitment to support the country in acquiring its own fleet.

He said the committee sought for the assistance of international financial institutions in the 60 percent stake to help acquire the fleet before the end of the year.

“If we wait until they (Nigerian ship owners) are able to pay for the 60 percent, we may not start and the minister wants us to start before December. So we are looking for financial institutions that will assist us with the 60 percent and then we will augment it with whatever we are able to get as shares and when we start the business, we will be paying back whatever percentage of the 60 percent we raised from loan from international support.

“Whatever percentage of the 60 percent they want to finance, we will get it and then open it up for the industry for ship owners to come and take shares in the 60 percent,” he said.

He said the committee chaired by the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council has been working assuring that it will deliver on its mandate.

He said that the December date is feasible to have a running national carrier that will provide opportunity for the country to lift its own cargoes and provide sea time experience for cadets.

Akinsoji laments the situation where over 80 percent of cargoes generated in the country are being carried by foreign vessels noting that such would be a thing of the past when the fleet is acquired.

“The date is achievable. We have cargoes and we have people who are in the industry because they believe in the industry and we are making a head way. You can imagine that over 80 million tonnes of cargoes we generate is carried by foreign vessels and even the freight earnings from the cargo we generate into the world market is not coming to Nigeria,” he said.

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