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BUHARI’s ELECTION BRINGS NEW SWAGGER TO NIMASA WORKERS

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…Express belief that Election result may save 600 workers from being sacked!

The victory of the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari may have brought new swaggers to most workers of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, with many of them, not only walking with heads raised taller, but also, willing to publicly express their feelings.

NIMASA DG, Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi

NIMASA DG, Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi

Following the workers’ open celebration of the declared poll result last week, their ranks broke into two, with over 80 percent, voicing out their belief that the electoral result has invalidated their fears over a list of about 600 workers slated to be sacked, once Jonathan was re-elected.

“My brother, did I pray? I no get option; my name was on the list!”, indicated a woman, who insisted that ever since a colleague confirmed for her that her name was on the list, she had embarked on marathon prayers.

“No ask me what I prayed for o. All I know was that Buhari’s election has shown that God still answers prayers!” she added.

Shedding light on what brought about the compilation of the list of 600 workers, a senior staffer, who also spoke on conditions of strong anonymity explained that in the course of a recent recruitment exercise, management as a result of political pressure, over-employed, especially of those mostly from the South-south, resulting in over crowding of the offices;  with its heavy consequences via salaries, on revenue.

“But the issue goes beyond that of mere lopsided recruitment. The major problem was psychological: many of these new staff came in, behaving as if the entire agency was a property of one section of the country.

“You can feel it. Its not something that can be easily explained. And it was both devastating and humiliating”, he further highlighted, noting that the humiliation was exacerbated after a 2006 graduate was elevated to the position of an Assistant Director, simply because he “belonged to them”, and there was nothing the workers could do, to correct the unfairness.

It was also observed that most workers were now ready to talk, even to the ‘press’, while some affirmed that they decided to play “deaf and dumb”, after grapevine leaks showed that some staff phones were slated to be bugged .

Like another staff explained: “It is true . We all learnt that some phones were being bugged. We didn’t know which phones would be affected, hence everybody began to play deaf and dumb. It was like going on safety mode, to protect our skin”, the worker also explained. He however expressed his belief, that two persons , a male and a female staff he alleged had their phones bugged.

The official reaction of the NIMASA image maker, Deputy Director, Public Relations, Isichei Osamgbi was still being awaited, as at the time of going to press, as a delivered text was yet to be responded to.

Meanwhile, maritime stakeholders were still waiting for the validation of an empty threat made over three weeks ago by the NIMASA DG, Patrick Akpobolokemi, to sue the APC organization, if the party refused to withdraw the accusation of hate campaign it made against the agency.

It would be recalled that the DG at a national press conference in Lagos issued an ultimatum on the All Progressive Congress to withdraw its accusation of funding hate campaigns against the agency, otherwise Akpobolokemi will personally or through his lawyers drag APC before a competent court to recant on its claim.

“Tell the agency we are still waiting”, a stakeholder, Anthony Emeordi tasked the Maritime First

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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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