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Causative elements to maritime safety

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Activities within the maritime industry are mostly dominated by people who interact with technology, environment and organisational factors. Advancement in technology has significantly improved maritime safety. The injection of sophisticated technology in the marine industry has impacted tremendously on human performance. Improvements in ship design and navigation aids have reduced manning levels and the frequency and severity of shipping accidents. Also, technology has improved productivity in shipping in 3 main areas namely: development of steam power on merchant ships, port performance and metallurgical innovations. With increasing cargo capability, steam powered ships were able to navigate safely, while metallurgical improvements of hulls provided larger, stronger and high capacity merchant ships.

High productivity of shipping in port can be achieved through better performance of the port in various stages including cargo handling and it could be as a result of provision of excess facilities. Whenever, traffic volumes are in excess of capacity, the port will be under very strong pressure from its main users to increase capacity immediately as it is the case with most ports in Nigeria. Although, some ports are underutilised, it may however be argued that the visible inefficiency in Nigerian ports is not due to inadequate provision of facilities but bureaucratic bottlenecks, and inconsistent government policies. Some may equally argue that inefficiency in Nigerian ports is as a result of lack of appropriate technology, inadequate skill and knowledge on how to manage ports. Whatever the argument, the Federal Government of Nigeria has concessioned the ports to private organisations to enable attainment of efficiency through time reduction of cargo clearance. Increased productivity is attainable either through better ways of working or improved technology but will not engender safety at the ports unless port workers’ safety culture is deep rooted in excellence.

Many developed nations have taken steps to provide certain margin of safety in the marine industry through deliberate government policies. This helps to increase productivity and also enhance overall capacity. The use of sophisticated cranes and other devices to handle cargo coupled with an assembly of individuals with skills, competencies and knowledge will influence productivity and safety. It has always been said that “Nigerians are hardworking and that the country is well endowed with human resources”. This is debatable as hard work does not automatically translate to productivity but rather production. The gifted human resource hypothesis will only be valid in terms of productivity when most Nigerians operating in the nation’s marine industry are educated and possess skills necessary to enhance safety.

It is to be stressed however, that safety margin is not free of cost as most developing nations consider it inappropriate and economically unprofitable to invest in such additional capacity especially when resources are scarce. Experience has shown that “shipping companies within or outside Nigeria with high levels of safety report have low accident figures, low replacement rates for crews, less crew absence and high productivity”. The best –in-class shipping companies are therefore the safest and most productive.

The environment can also contribute to maritime safety. By environment, consideration is not only given to weather and other physical factors but also to regulations and economic issues. Physical factors such as extreme temperature conditions affect human performance in the maritime environment. Importantly, high sea state and ship vibration cause stress and fatigue for seafarers. When stress and fatigue sets in, individual’s perception of the elements within the maritime environment is affected. A review of 100 shipping incidents by a few maritime experts revealed “that cognitive problems were responsible for 70 percent of human errors”. Between 1987 and 2000, human error in maritime accidents reports of 8 countries examined revealed “that 71 percent of all human error types in ships are occasioned by situation awareness”.

Organisational behaviour is the action and attitude of people towards each other and the organisation and its effect on performance. Organisational factors such as policies, crew size and training decision directly affect their workload and capabilities to perform safely and effectively. An organisational structure that is inflexible can inhibit effective team work, whereas safety culture can enhance it.Safety culture covers factors as diverse as the values and practices, organisational structure and outlook, and modes of behaviour of management and personnel towards sustaining safety and mitigating risks. Safety culture will be effective when leadership and staff keep safety and pollution prevention at the highest level of their safety priority list. Therefore safety culture is sustained through leadership commitment to establishing safety measuring performance and behaviour in order to mitigate risks to human, ships and the environment. Committed Leadership is essential in driving safety in an organisation and impacting on human performance.

Safer shipping in the marine industry requires ship owners and operators to have an effective safety culture. Studies have shown that a conscious attempt to practice sustained safety culture in a shipping organisation will give rise to reduction in man days lost because of accidents; reduction in fines for pollution incidents;reduction in insurance premiums; reduction in damage to cargo; reduction in sick leave and reduction in hospital bills.When safety culture is not imbibed in people, situation awareness will be below par. In other words, individual’s perception of the elements within the maritime environment will in most instances not match the reality. Accordingly, when perception does not match reality, there is likelihood of an accident arising from lack of communication, complacency, lack of knowledge, distraction, and lack of team work, fatigue and lack of resources. Others include stress, lack of awareness, lack of assertiveness, norms, and lack of work ethics.
—Business Day Online

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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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