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Don’t Contest, If You Can’t Square Up To Customs- Shittu

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… As US Ships move First Oil After 40-Year-Long Export Ban

The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) may have written to members wishing to contest leaderships of various chapters to steer off, if they would not square up to Customs, in terms of knowledge, after elections.

This was contained in the seasonal message by National President, Prince Olayiwola Shittu,  sent to members, noting that the “screening of contestants for the various positions has been concluded” and “Election date is mid-January 2016”.

Col. Hameed Ali“As qualified as all of them may be, one thing I would want to say to them is in the fact that, they should not just aspire to these positions for their selfish interest, but to really render selfless service to the membership of ANLCA in their various chapters”, Shittu said, in a statement made available by his P.A to the media, Joe Sanni, stressing that the “statement is without prejudice”; as every aspiration must be anchored on a vision, to protect the association and membership goals. More so, as the association must consequently review its relationship with the Nigeria Customs Service.

“Our relationship with Customs, needs to be revisited, articulated and discussed deeply, extensively at the level of the chapters and far reaching decisions taken, that will be mutually agreeable to both parties and easily implementable”, the high command stated, hinting that when the drum beat changes, the dancing steps may also have to change.

Customs PRO and Image Maker, WALE ADENIYI

Customs PRO and Image Maker, WALE ADENIYI

“Gone are the days when only Customs officials, on the basis of their uniform, will continue to claim superiority of knowledge of classification and valuation issues.

“We must begin to mutually agree on certain items that are either right or wrong. To customs, who are supposed to not only be revenue collectors, they should go beyond that brief, to facilitate trade, instead of insisting on being right on borderline issues.

“Customs must always give up on issues that they are not totally convinced about, instead of using their uniform to intimidate Agents and frustrate them to submission. We must agree on modalities to achieve this, and ensure that a situation like that does not arise anymore.

“We must also condemn in its strongest terms the unconducive environment the shipping companies and terminal operators subject Agents to, treating us as if we are sub-humans in our own country. This must be stopped forthwith by the executives coming into power.

“They just have to take actions to protect all Agents’ dignity. Same goes for government Agencies who ordinarily have no business extorting money from agents, while performing their statutory functions in the ports, for which they are adequately remunerated, via their monthly salaries. Their impunity must stop!

“A database of Agents must be developed forthwith, with which ANLCA must seek to harmonize with shipping companies and terminal operators, with a view to checking the rowdiness, overcrowding and importantly, sanitizing the ports environment.

“Executives must begin to push the customs to issue passwords attached to each license/Agency in order to sanitize the ports, check fraud and, ensure that every license is held accountable for misuse”, the body emphasized, adding on, other issues which included instituting a process, where agents are consistently trained and retrained, to ensure they confidently defend their jobs, when the need arises.

“We must stop being subservient to Customs officers, whose stock in trade is just to intimidate Agents to submission.
I needed to point out these issues because our members who vie for offices without acknowledging the germane reason why they do so, also need to be educated about procedures for valuing items and the rules of classification.

“Therefore, they are now being admonished to reflect on the actual reasons for occupying public office.
The arbitrary charges slammed on importers and Agents by shipping companies and terminal operators must be resisted”, the umbrella body of Customs brokers posited, admonishing agents, beginning with the incoming executives, particularly from the Western zone, to brace up, for a more dynamic 2016, especially its first quarter.

On a sad note, the immediate past National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Obicee Okonkwo has lost his wife.

In the meantime, the first export cargo of U.S.-produced crude oil has departed the port of Corpus Christi on board Theo T crude oil tanker in less than two weeks since the lifting of the 40-year export ban.

The cargo of oil and condensate completed loading at NuStar’s North Beach Terminal located in the port of Corpus Christi on December 31, 2015 and left for Italy, where it is expected to arrive on January 20th, the ship’s AIS data shows.

The oil stems from ConocoPhillips’s wells in south Texas.

With this shipment NuStar and ConocoPhilips beat Enterprise Products Partners L.P. which announced its intention to load the first post-ban export cargo in January.

What is believed to be now the second 600,000 barrel cargo of domestic light crude oil is scheduled to load at the Enterprise Hydrocarbon Terminal (EHT) on the Houston Ship Channel during the first week of January 2016.

Both cargoes have been secured by oil trader giant Vitol SA.

Additional report from World Maritime News

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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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