Nigeria loses N31bn yearly to low ship bunkering

Strong indications emerged that Nigeria loses over $65 million (N30.7billion) annually on seeming ban placed on ship bunkering activities in the country.

Ship bunkering, also called refuelling, is a global and legitimate practice in the shipping industry, which involves the process of ships buying fuel, engine oil, lubricants and other related materials in large quantities that would last the ship for the length of time she would be on water in the course of a voyage before she could berth at her next port of call, which seems prohibited in Nigeria,

Managing Director of Delta Marine Shipping Company Limited, an indigenous shipping firm, Engineer Basil Uba, disclosed that more than 95 per cent of the vessels comprising tanker, bulk cargo and container carriers all do their bunkering activities outside Nigeria, mostly Port of Lome, Togo or in Ghana through which the country loses in excess of $65 million that would have come into the country.

According to him, there is no legislation in the country that has prohibited the provision of bunkering services but lamented that the Nigerian Navy had dubbed such services as 'illegal bunkering', thus making it difficult to embark upon them in the country.

Uba, who is a Marine Engineer and a member of the Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture MENA, a division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers NSE, disclosed that a country like Singapore earns far above $65 million from bunkering services rendered by her citizens for the vessels that call at the country's seaports.

"All over the world, ship bunkering is a legitimate practice whereby the vessels seek to replenish their stock of fuel, grease, lubricants and other related materials before sailing into the sea since such services cannot be rendered while the vessels is mid sea", he said.

It is a common knowledge that the Nigerian Navy, which is saddled with the responsibility of securing the nation's territorial waters, has so many vessels and platforms of various sizes and configuration. The question one has to ask is how does the Navy bunker its fleet?" Uba also questioned rhetorically.

He insisted that bunkering anywhere is a legitimate service in the shipping industry, without which the vessel will run short of supplies, a development that might truncate the voyage since the vessel cannot run with the same fuel she took from the port of departure to all the ports of call and back, which takes more than one month, depending on the countries involved.

Stakeholders have argued that if $65 million is injected into the nation's economy through the maritime industry, such huge inflow of foreign exchange from foreign shipping lines would help in re-flatting the economy, at a time like this when the country is in dire need of foreign exchange.

This is in addition to the scores of jobs that would be created in the process.

They argued that at best, the Federal Government could strictly monitor and regulate ship bunkering activities to forestall any form of abuse or illegalities, which cannot always be ruled out completely in any human endeavour.

Source: National Mirror

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