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24 dead, including 10 children, in Greek migrant boat sinking: coastguard

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  • As Jonathan insists: Buhari using weapons I bought to fight B’Haram

The bodies of 24 migrants, including 10 children, were discovered off the Greek island of Samos Thursday after their boat capsized, the Greek coastguard said.

Eleven people from a dinghy carrying 45 people were still listed as missing following the latest tragedy involving overladen migrant boats crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece.

Ten people were rescued unharmed.

Authorities initially said they had found 12 bodies but the number rose quickly as rescuers combed the waters for the missing.

There were “five boys and five girls among the victims, while 10 people were pulled from the water unharmed, but in a state of shock,” a coastguard spokeswoman said.

The alert was raised by one of the survivors, who managed to swim to shore.

Greek ships and two vessels from the European border agency Frontex took part in the rescue operation.

There was no information yet on the migrants’ country of origin.

Despite wintry conditions, thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa continue to make the treacherous sea journey to Europe, many paying with their lives.

Last week, 44 people drowned in a single day when three migrant boats ran into trouble in Greek waters.

On Wednesday, rescuers found the bodies of seven drowned migrants, including two children, after their boat sank off the Greek island of Kos.

The latest tragedy comes as swamped Greek authorities are under pressure from their European counterparts to staunch the migrant flow.

The European Commission on Wednesday hit out at Athens, saying it had “seriously neglected” its duty to protect the bloc’s frontiers and raising the prospect of other EU members imposing border controls for up to two years.

The UN says more than 46,000 migrants have arrived in Greece so far this year, with 200 people dying during the voyage.

Last year, Greece received over 850,000 arrivals.

In the meantime, former President Goodluck Jonathan says he is proud of the foundation he laid for the present progress the Nigerian Army is recording against the Boko Haram sect.

He said the military equipment purchased during his administration is still being used to prosecute the terror war, adding that no new equipment has been bought since he left office.

Jonathan said this on Wednesday night during a programme titled, ‘Focus on Africa’ aired on an international news and current affairs television channel based in Paris, France 24

Asked to speak specifically on whether he was sure his administration laid the groundwork for the recent breakthroughs recorded by the army, Jonathan said, “Of course, you know the new government is working hard and I believe they are still using the equipment we procured.

“The 2016 budget is still being debated and no new equipment has been bought. So, even what the new government is still using to prosecute the war is the equipment we procured. I believe that with what we left behind, and the new ones they would acquire, this issue of Boko Haram will be taken to a logical conclusion.”

Jonathan declined to comment on the changes evolved by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, saying it was not proper to make any comment.

Speaking on the leadership crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party, the former President said it was a normal phenomenon and that the party would soon overcome it.

Jonathan also declined to make comments on the fall of the naira and other economic challenges the country is battling.

When prodded on whether he felt any sense of responsibility for any misdeed done during his tenure, Jonathan said, “Please, please, I have said that I will not comment on these areas because they are sensitive areas and I wouldn’t want to create problems for my country.

“I cannot comment on what is happening now. It is not proper for a former president to be commenting, either positive or negative.”

Jonathan added, “The PDP will definitely have some minor issues but that is expected because we were in power for 16 years and when we lost the presidency, we began to have some kind of leadership problems. Everybody looks up to the president but when you are no longer the president, it becomes difficult for the party to have a very strong leadership.

“But I believe that whatever the PDP is going through will be sorted out. Elders and leaders of the party have been meeting and all these perceived disagreement will soon be sorted out. The party will bounce back.”

MSN with additional report from Punch

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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