The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has revealed that he was not involved in the issuance of waivers to foreign vessels operating in Nigerian coastal waters.
Amaechi stated this on Thursday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Local Content.
The committee is investigating the breach of Nigerian laws by foreign vessels in the coastal shipping of petroleum products in the downstream sector of the Nigerian maritime industry.
The Minister, while reacting to allegations of arbitrary issuance of waivers to foreign vessel operators by the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Teslim Folarin, said he was not aware that his office had to grant such waivers.
He said, “I do not even know until recently that I have to issue a waiver. For me to know as a minister, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency is supposed to write to me to request an approval.
“As of now, no request for an approval is on my table or has been on my table from 2015 till today.”
Amaechi also denied knowledge of any record in the ministry that waivers had been granted before.
He said, “I have not checked that information. I have to confirm that by asking the Permanent Secretary to do a study to find out if there was any before we came.
“From the day I assumed duty in 2016 till today, I have never sighted any request.”
Amaechi urged the committee members to invite the DG of NIMASA, Dr Bashiru Jamoh, to know the status of the vessels operating in Nigeria.
He added, “The basic thing in the Nigerian waterways is not even those foreigners.
“It is the level of insecurity and the fact that NASS has refused to pass the law approving the setting up of coast guard which would have been the saving grace for all these. It is the coast guards that would have found who is operating and who is not.”
The committee subsequently resolved to invite the DG NIMASA and the minister to appear before the committee to answer the issue on the waiver.