Ship owners and operators in the country have unveiled another umbrella body after a meeting in Lagos.
The new body named; Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), according to its founders, is geared towards promoting the interest and providing a forum for dialogue among ship owners in the country.
Speaking to newsmen, its inaugural President, Mr Greg Ogbeifun, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Starz Group of Companies, said all members of SOAN have agreed to continue to be members of Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA).
“I am still a member of NISA and I am not aware of any member of SOAN that has resigned from NISA. We only formed SOAN to fill the gaps created by NISA,” he said.
He, however, said SOAN comprised ship owners with proven track records.
“SOAN comprises ship-owning companies with proven track records of activities in the industry recognised by upstream and downstream sectors of the shipping industry as well as by the private and public sectors of the industry,” Ogbeifun said.
He explained that there was need for shipowners to dialogue among themselves and with any other interest on topical issues and practices pertaining to the business of ship ownership and management.
“SOAN is set up to facilitate participation of Nigerian ship owners in international fora on shipping matters through effective representation in such meetings.
“It is also to cultivate and maintain good relations with the government and maritime authorities by contributing expertise in formulating policies and regulations on national and maritime activities, ” he added.
Ogbeifun also said the new association was not set up to be a pressure group or to agitate for contract but to create a road map for the government.
“We would not set agenda for the new government but will only set a road map for them. We are not a pressure group but a group of businessmen with proven track record,” he said.
Also speaking, a former Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr Temisan Omatseye, said the association was set up by shipowners “who know how the industry operates and know where the shoe pinches”.
“Everybody here owns vessels. We are shipowners we know where the shoe pinches and we will set agenda for the government. We are businessmen and we would not ask government for money but tell them how to open up the industry,” he said.
Omatseye, however, urged the Federal Government to create avenue for them to be able to access funds to enable them carry out their obligations.
On his part, a former Director- General, Government Inspector of Shipping, Mr Olu Akinsoji, said that the establishment of SOAN signified good things to come into the maritime industry, adding that the creation of the association would bring quick and positive feedback to the maritime policy.