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Agbakoba Threatens to Sue Terminal Operators Over N1Trillion Illegal Charges



Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) president Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) has threatened to sue the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) and the Association of Shipping Line Agencies (ASLA) to court over an alleged illegal N1 trillion collected from importers.

The charges were said to have been collected before the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) was appointed as the ports economic regulator. Agbakoba is accusing STOAN and ASLA of refusing to return the cash.

Answering questions from The Nation at his office in Apapa, Lagos, Agbakoba said the Federal High Court in Lagos recently upheld the NSC as the ports economic regulator and directed the terminal operators and shipping companies to cut down their charges and refund all the money they collected from importers.

Agbakoba accused the terminal operators and shipping companies of driving away genuine investors and crippling the economy because of their illegal charges.

He urged the government to overhaul its outdated policies, and embark on a visionary enterprise that will institutionalise growth in the maritime sector as alternative to oil.

The last major review of Nigerian Shipping Policy was 28 years ago when the NSP act no 10 of 1987 was enacted, he said.

He wondered why the terminal operators and the shipping companies have not refunded the N1 trillion to boost shipping and maritime.

Agbakoba urged the government to create an enabling environment to encourage huge investment in the sector.

The ports that are supposed to be the hub of shipping business in West and Central Africa, he added, were unattractive and uncompetitive because of arbitrary charges.

“We went to court recently and there were two very important cases; the terminal operators and shipping companies hiked their prices and introduced one non-sense charge (Shipping Line Agency Charge) making billions of naira and the court has declared it to be illegal collections.

“The next case we are pursuing is that we are going to go after the terminal operators and the shipping companies to refund at least the N1 trillion they have taken illegally”

“The N1 trillion, had Nigerian companies had it,  would give them capital to do other things, and this is why the Shippers Council has insisted that nobody must be allowed to over-price the ports because they do,  many importers will not patronise them ,” he said.

Agbakoba said he is not happy because the ports have been abandoned for those in Benin Republic and Togo.

“Until recently, there is no clearly recognised economic regulator for the shipping sector. The Federal High Court has held that the Nigerian Shippers Council is an economic regulator. It is only when the Nigerian Shippers Council, is empowered to regulate that stakeholders in the sector can turn around their businesses and generate huge revenue for the nation as their counterparts in other countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and USA.

“This is due to lack of regulation in the sector, which has led to a plethora of uncoordinated activities and exorbitant port charges which make Nigeria very unattractive for business.

“Invariably, Nigeria due to paucity of its shipping regulations, is violating international trade facilitation laws. For instance, Nigeria as a coastal state is to provide port importation support and access to landlocked countries such as Niger and Burkina Faso. Cameroun and Ghana are now providing those services in spite of long distances between the countries,” he said.

The Nation

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



…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



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

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…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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