The Dredgers Association of Nigeria (LDAN) has urged the federal government to develop a robust policy framework to protect indigenous dredging operators from foreign dominance.
The executive secretary of the association, Mr Richard Ntange, said that government’s establishment of policies with incentives would make local industries thrive in their operations.
“Government should create an enabling environment for indigenous dredging operators to work at par with our foreign counterparts that have almost driven us out of the business,” he said.
Ntange noted that the foreign investors are wooed with generous incentives, including tax holidays of about three to five years and syndicated bank loans, while on the other hand, local operators were denied these generous conditions even in the country.
“The foreign dredging operators are monopolising the sector; they are a threat to local competitors that may have been in the market before their arrival,” he said, urging the government to reduce tariffs on the importation of mining equipment to enable a thriving and sustainable mining industry.
According to Ntange, government should protect local investments because dredging operation is capital intensive.
“The equipment are expensive, they run into millions. When we import the equipment into the country, the duty fees we pay to clear them is very expensive. This is not helping the industry, the equipment are engaged for exploration of raw materials used for development of infrastructures that will add value to life.”
He stated that based on this, duty fee should be reduced or removed from importation of dredging materials, adding “Government should encourage and assist operators in this sector by encouraging them to grow and remain profitable through viable policies.”
He said that the sector is economically important to the nation through value added by exploration of raw materials for infrastructural development and unemployment rate reduction.
“Most dredging companies are a complete set up. They have a staff strength of not less than 25 skilled and unskilled workers that cuts across various field working in the company.
“Some big dredging companies even have over 100 staffs working for them and we have more than 200 dredging companies in Nigeria.”