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Apapa Records Improvement in Traffic as Navy Clears Trucks, Tankers

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Security operatives led by the officers of the Nigerian Navy Thursday improved on the chaotic traffic situation in Apapa Port.

It was a big surprise to many who were in Apapa that most of the roads were free unlike the situation in the past one week.

In fact, Thursday’s experience appeared as if it was on weekend following the intervention by the Navy, including high ranking officers from the Naval Base Apapa.

Many had kept away from their offices following the Apapa gridlock that made entrance in and out of Apapa impossible.

Importers, terminal operators and freight forwarders had lamented the situation in Apapa.

The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) had estimated that Nigeria was losing at least N5billion on daily basis as a result of the gridlock.

President of the ANLCA, Princed Olayiwora Shitu was reported to have called on urgent government intervention to address the problem.

Similarly, the President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (ANLCA), Dr. Eugene Nweke had gone on a television programme calling on the federal government to declare a state of emergency on Apapa gridlock because of the suffering the many people were going through.

However, the situation remained the same for the Tin Can Island Road from Mile 2.

Both tankers and trucks as at Thursday had taken over the whole road shortly after Ijesha and before Mile 2.

Vehicles going to Apapa through Mile 2 were forced to take one-way as has been the case for months now.

It was a big business for commercial motor cyclists who take one way into Apapa from Mile 2.

Terminal operators Wednesday lamented that the gridlock being suffered in Apapa was a direct consequence of system failure in the oil and gas industry logistics chain.

Chairman, Seaport Terminal Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup who is also the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of ENL Consortium , said the only way to address the gridlock is to immediately suspend the lifting of imported petroleum products from tank farms by road.

In a statement sent to SHIPPING DAY, she said, “There is an over-concentration of oil tank farms in Apapa, an area predominantly designed for port operations. There is now a situation where we have proliferation of oil tank farms without regards for the safety logistics implication.

“I issued a warning over five years ago advising government to discontinue tank farm operations in Apapa but nothing was done. The problem is now staring all of us in the face.

“Port operations have been brought to a virtual standstill as a result of this chaos created by tank farm and oil tankers and it does not look like anyone is doing anything drastic about it.

“We have a situation where over 10,000 tankers descend on Apapa daily and when you add this to the number of conventional trucks on routine maritime operations, it is not surprising that we have the kind of gridlock we are currently witnessing,” she said.

She lamented that there are about 60 tank farms operating in Apapa.

On the immediate solution to the problem, Haastrup said, “There must be immediate suspension of the evacuation of petroleum products from Apapa by road. The authorities must immediately activate the use of barges in petroleum products evacuation.

“Petroleum products meant for the northern part of the country should be moved to Lokoja and Baro Ports by barges while the trucks collect them from there rather than coming to Apapa.

“Petroleum products meant for the South East and South South should be moved by barges to Onitsha Port, Warri Port, Port Harcourt Port and Calabar Port. The trucks then go to those places to pick up and distribute.

“This is the way to go and this will immediately reduce the number of tankers coming to Apapa to a manageable number.

“Ultimately and on the long run, the incoming government should get our refineries working to reduce the nation’s avoidable dependence on importation of petroleum products. The tank farms in Apapa must also be relocated to allow a breath of fresh air for port operation,” Haastrup said.

She said port operators and their staff have been worse hit by the gridlock as the various operators have suffered “substantial losses” since the gridlock set in.

“Terminal operators, government, shipping companies, clearing agents and the entire maritime industry is hemorrhaging as a result of this unfortunate situation.

“The gridlock also has serious and dire consequences on the economy,” she added.

Shipping Day

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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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