Oyewole told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Tuesday that the government could partner with the private sector operators in restarting the shipping line.
“Government can also make it an entirely private sector- driven for it to be properly sustained,’’ he said.
Oyewole said that it was regrettable that the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) collapsed because of inexperience and bad management.
“What led to the collapse can be inexperience and bad management,’’ he said.
NAN reports that the NNSL was established in 1959 with the objective of promoting acquisition of shipping technology and creating employment in the shipping industry.
NAN also reports that the shipping company was, however, liquidated in September 1995 during the regime of the Late Gen. Sani Abacha and all its 21 vessels sold.
Oyewole told NAN that the defunct NNSL started operation with four vessels in 1959 and increased the fleet to 15 vessels by 1971.
He said that government decided to “re-tonnage the fleet” with 19 combo vessels because the ships were already old and unable to meet the challenges of modern shipping.
“When the 19 new ships were delivered, there had been changes in ship technology because all of them were combo vessels and all cargo ships with no single oil tanker among them,’’ he said.
He, however, said that the country could manage and sustain a shipping line with the level of experience the nation had acquired.
Oyewole said that the government would create conducive atmosphere for private investors to buy more ships to create jobs for graduates of the Nigerian Maritime Academy, Oron, Akwa Ibom State.
“ We do not have ships. We are trying to approach it in a sustainable way.
“It is not enough to say that we are funding Cabotage vessels and that people should buy ships.
“It is better that we make the atmosphere very conducive for people to buy more ships,’’’ he said.
Oyewole said that the Federal Government had awarded contract for the building of a maritime university in Okerenkoko, Delta, to commence academic work next year.
“ A nation like Nigeria with about 165 million people cannot have one maritime institute.
“The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has continued to support the Maritime Academy in Oron, Akwa Ibom,’’ he said.
Oyewole said that the government had approved maritime studies in four Universities – University of Nigeria, Nsukka, University of Lagos, Delta State University and Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State. (NAN)