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Published On: Wed, Aug 22nd, 2018

Expert seeks repeal of Nigerian Cabotage law

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From Osaigbovo Iguobaro Benin

A Maritime expert and graduate of Oxford University, Dr. Ese Owie has called for the repeal of the Nigerian Cabotage Act of the national Assembly in 2003.
Owie made this known while delivering at a one Day sensitization seminar on Edo State Maritime renaissance which was organized by the Nigerian Bar association (NBA), Benin branch.
The Act gives impetus to indigenous maritime operators to become conscious of their rights as well as to enforce it for the overall development of Indigenous flagships, as against the maritime dominated by foreign flagships.
He described certain provisions of the Act that empowers the supervisory Minister of the Maritime sector to use his discretion to grant waivers for vessels as a threat to its own survival.
The legal practitioner spoke on the topic: “Rethinking Maritime Cabotage and the development of Inland Waterways transportation in Nigeria”.
Owie, a former Chairman of Edo Inland Revenue service (EIRS), said: “If you ask me, that Act should be repealed. If you can repeal, amended…For me amendment should be made because the current governance architecture is faulty.
“This level of discretion is not in line with best practices.
“You can on paper protect a sector, and on the other hand, give a Minister opportunity to grant a waiver”.
He said non of the objectives the drafters of the Bill seek to achieve since the Bill was passed into law has been realized.
He however recommended that the nation’s Inland Waterways should be liberalise instead of being closed in order to attract direct foreign investment for the sector to be more viable.
“The reason is that you do not close a sector when you do not have the capacity to drive it.
“All the objectives”, he said.
Earlier, the Benin branch chairman of NBA, Prince Collins Ogiegbaen, harped on the need of enhancing his members’ knowledge on the area of maritime trade and law to enable them effective in accordance with the constitution
He revealed his members have roles to play to improve the trade, when Gelegele seaport come on stream.
He said a technical committee has been put in place to fast track the building of infrastructure aspect of the trade, adding that the code is different from the code covering the international laws.
The State Commissioner for justice, Prof. (Mrs) Yinka Omorogbe who was represented by the Director, Citizen Rights Department, Mrs Felicia Monyei, described Maritime law as key to industrialization in a State.
The seminar afforded legal luminaries to distill ideas and compare notes on the opportunities that abound in the proposed Benin Inland dry port.

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