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Fear in OAU over ‘malaria epidemic’



  • As UN plans to expand aid amid partial truce in Syrian war

There is fear among students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State.

Reason: Suspected malaria epidemic on campus.

It was learnt that more than 70 students “visited” the university’s health centre in the last three days to complain of similar symptoms.

Investigation revealed that they complained of headache, stomach ache, body weakness, irritation, fever, vomiting (in some cases), sore throat and loss of appetite.

Many students are raising the alarm over the disease and calling for an immediate intervention.

However, the school’s Acting Director, Medical and Health Services, Dr. Adedayo Irinoye, denied that there was an epidemic on campus.

According to him, “If there is any outbreak, we will be the one to first inform the public.

“Malaria is endemic on the campus but there is no epidemic. The cause of the students’ sickness is multi-facet.

“Some are caused by anxiety over examination coupled with poor nutrition, increase in stress and change of climate.

“We have doubled our manpower and adjusted our roasters.

“As we speak, we have not referred anyone to the OAU Teaching Hospital.

“The symptoms are those of malaria and the students are treated before leaving in good health.

There is nothing strange happening, there is only increase in traffic.”

Also, the school’s spokesman, Biodun Olarenwaju, said the situation was not peculiar to the school alone.

He noted that the increase in the number of sick students might be linked to climate change.

“It is just a kind of reaction to the climate change and it is not peculiar to OAU.

“We have competent medical doctors and researchers who would have detected if the complaints are unusual.

“That we admitted 150 students as being reported on  social media is propaganda.

“Our beds are not filled up yet. We have only 14 beds. Everything is under control,” he said.

Meanwhile, the UN is poised to begin delivering aid to people living in besieged areas of Syria. making use of a truce brokered by the US and Russia.

Its first deliveries are planned for Monday, with aid due to reach about 150,000 Syrians in besieged areas over the next five days.

The UN hopes to help an estimated 1.7 million people by the end of March.

Saturday’s long-awaited truce appears to be holding despite complaints of breaches from both sides.

A key Syrian opposition group said the situation was much better.

Before the truce, Western powers accused Russia of attacking moderate rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; Moscow says it only targets UN-designated terrorist groups.

This is now a crucial window of opportunity for the UN to get food and aid to the besieged. The truce does, in general, remain intact despite both the Western-backed opposition and regime sides complaining of dozens of violations over the weekend, including air strikes around Aleppo.

But it is unclear whether the target was the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra front, which would not constitute a ceasefire breach since it and so-called Islamic State are not included in the deal.

A rebel spokesman talked of violations “here and there” but a situation much better than before. Moscow also complained of incidents but said on the whole, the ceasefire was being implemented.

That it has largely held for the weekend has defied expectations but there is still a lot of scepticism that it can continue for the full two weeks.

The UN’s humanitarian co-ordinator in Syria, Yacoub el-Hillo, called the truce “the best opportunity that the Syrian people have had over the last five years for lasting peace and stability”.

The organisation plans to use the lull to deliver food, water and medicine to towns like Madaya, where residents have reportedly been starving to death.

It says it needs the approval of Syria’s warring parties before it can further expand its deliveries.

Efforts to deliver aid to Islamic State-besieged Deir al-Zour by air last week failed when several pallets were damaged, disappeared or landed in no-man’s land.

“Primarily we will try to deliver food by land because that is the most efficient way, it’s the way that we can deliver the largest amounts of food but there are some areas of the country where we can’t get across the front line,” Greg Barrow, a spokesman for the UN World Food Programme, told the BBC.

Almost 500,000 people are living under siege in Syria, the UN estimates.

The cessation of hostilities was agreed as part of a plan by the US and Russia, who have backed opposing sides in Syria’s civil war.

It does not apply to the fight against so-called Islamic State (IS) or the Nusra Front, which is linked to al-Qaeda.

Nation with additional report from BBC


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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