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Crisis looms, as freight forwarders prepare to decide on peace disruption



Crisis now looms in the nation’s maritime industry as freight forwarders slate a crucial meeting for Tuesday to decide when the group may embark on a new chain of protests to force the Government to pursue policies that would be more people friendly.

The National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu who confirmed this, also said the meeting would involve the association’s Board of Trustees (BOT), NECOM, Zonal Officers, Chapter Executives, as well as Chairmen and Secretaries of National Committees.

“The emergency meeting is to discuss impending withdrawal of services” Shittu stated, highlighting that the entire leadership must necessarily address “operational challenges” currently confronting all the ports and borders in the country, in the overall interest of industry operators.

Another member of the group who spoke on condition of anonymity however told the Maritime First that the National President had been under some pressure to call for a nationwide strike, as strikes now seemingly appear to be the only language the Government of President Goodluck Jonathan tend to recognize or respect, hence the decision of Shittu to insist on a comprehensive attendance of the meeting to take the crucial decision.

“The President had been striving to ensure sanity among membership, particularly in his bid to avoid whatever could make the authorities accuse him of working for the opposition”, the seasoned operator indicated, adding that only a few days ago, the National President assisted in ending a 10-day old protest embarked upon by Licensed Customs Clearing agents against the vexatious double charging on imports by some foreign airlines, for the same reasons.

Highlighting that while the strike action was suspended temporarily last Wednesday(July 16), pending the final resolution expected off a meeting between NCAA and the foreign airlines, who form just a small percentage of the total number of airlines bringing cargo to Nigeria, so as to enable the expected enforcement of an earlier written order by the regulator of the industry, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), to stop the double charges, the aim had been in genuine desire to ensure peace.

Asked why the Customs brokers should engage themselves in a battle that ought to have been fought by NCAA, he explained the group took the decision after it became difficult to ascertain whether or not, NCAA was deliberately passive.

“All the charges for imported cargo are already paid by the shipper abroad. What is expected of the foreign airlines is to deliver cargo to the importer, through the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO/AVIANCE) who in turn had to charge cargo handling charge, for keeping the cargo and ensuring it is safely and securely delivered to the consignee. It has however remained a case of double charging in Nigeria”, he noted, adding that the temporary strike suspension was achieved after Shittu, led a delegation of National officers to the MMIA Chapter to stage a peaceful protest to the Customs Area Comptroller, NAHCO to explain the reasons for the protest, seeking their understanding and, noting that the protest is not against them but the foreign airlines who have continuously fleeced Nigerians of their hard earned monies with impurity.
“Subsequently, at a joint meeting in the offices of NAHCO which saw all relevant agencies at the airport in attendance, it was decided to immediately suspend the protest, while a lasting solution is expected out of a final resolution meeting of the airlines and NCAA” he posited further.

Meanwhile, Nigerians have begun to note that with soaring statistics of strike actions by stakeholders, the present administration may soon break all known records, for beating previous governments in the unenviable area of strikes.

It would be recalled that asides from the nationwide fuel protests and strike actions that heralded Jonathan’s forage in the petroleum sector in January 2012, the country has since witnessed avoidable work stoppage in the education, health sectors, public service, etc.

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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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