Trawler Owners Seek Import Waiver On Vessel Spare Parts

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Trawler owners have called on the federal government to grant the association waivers on Customs duty for the importation of vessels’ spare parts into the country. 

The group disclosed this the aegis of the Nigerian Trawler Operators Association (NITOA), the group called on the government to remove them from implementation of the Cabotage Act.

Speaking during a presentation at the 2024 stakeholders engagement meeting in Lagos, President of NITOA, Mrs. Ben Okonkwo, pointed out that most of the vessel spare parts for fish trawling operations are not manufactured in Nigeria but are imported.

“We are asking for Customs duty waivers for our vessel spare parts like fishing gears and the rest. We don’t manufacture these things here in Nigeria. Most of them are imported, so if we can get duty waivers on them, it will also go a long way in helping us,” she said.

In the area of tax waivers, she said what fish trawlers used to enjoy in the past was Export Expansion Grants (EPG), saying they haven’t received grants since 2017.

“Some got grants up to 2020. The grant was something designed by the government to cushion the effect of the challenges facing the fish trawling industry,” she added.

According to her, If these grants can come back and become more regular and transparent, it will go a long way in reviving the fish trawling industry.

However, she said that NITOA has abandoned their vessels at different jetties scattered across the nation’s ports due to very high operating costs. 

She lamented that the major challenge facing trawler operators in Nigeria is sourcing Automotive Gas Oil (diesel), which is now very expensive.

“The jetties everywhere have our vessels tied up there, doing nothing because we can’t afford the cost of diesel for operations. What happens when vessels are tied up doing nothing? The workers become laid off and unemployed. That’s the stark reality of what happens when vessels are doing nothing. For trawler owners to bounce back into operations, we are asking for some kind of logistics arrangement from NNPC or Dangote Refinery in the area of AGO provision,” she said.

“Ordinarily, we are not supposed to be captured under the Cabotage Act, but we are there. Years ago, we got an administrative waiver and then went to the House of Reps during a public hearing to defend why we should not be captured under the Cabotage Act. We then received a response that it would be looked into, but we have not seen any review to date. As fish trawlers, we don’t have any contract, so we should be removed from the Cabotage Act.

“We do fishing purely as an agricultural business, so putting us under the Cabotage regime will do us more harm than good,” she explained.

 

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