By Steve Agbota
The Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) has decried $100 million in capital flight losses in the country, even as it petitioned National Assembly over the coastal and bunkering vessels services contract the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) recently awarded to a foreign shipping company, Messrs UNIBROS.
In a petition to the National Assembly, as well as to the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, signed by President of SOAN, Dr Mkgeorge Onyung, a copy of which he made available to newsmen, the beneficiary company, UNIBROS, operates under the guise of various foreign shell companies with 11 foreign flagged coastal tanker vessels.
The shipowners urged the lawmakers to carry out a thorough investigation into the action of the NNPC, which according to them is in total breach and impetuous disregard for Nigerian Content laws, the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act (Cabotage Act) and the Presidential Executive Order No.5, to the exclusion of Nigerian Shipowners and operators and to the detriment of the Nigerian economy.
The petition reads in part: “The Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) hereby register our protest in this show of bad faith and unpatriotic attitude displayed by NNPC, despite the fact that Nigerian Shipowners and operators have demonstrated capacity to operate this contract exclusively, and have expressed willingness to accept freight payments in Naira whereas NNPC is presently paying UNIBROS in US Dollars, further‘ draining our extremely scarce foreign exchange (forex) resources.”