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FG declares war on fuel, power saboteurs

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Federal Government yesterday promised decisive action against saboteurs responsible for the ongoing fuel scarcity and drop in power generation. Government had said pipeline vandalism and sabotage of power infrastructure had drastically reduced power generation/transmission as well as fuel supplies in recent times, thus inflicting untold hardship on Nigerians. It warned of dire consequences for those involved in the sabotage.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who issued the threat yesterday, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr Segun Adeyemi, warned that the Federal Government would deal ruthlessly with those engaged in pipeline vandalism and the sabotage of power infrastructure in the country. Mohammed said repeated attacks on oil and gas pipelines and the willful shut down of power facilities by protesters amounted to economic sabotage, which no government would tolerate.

“Vandals, whatever their motives are, cannot and will not be treated with kid gloves because their actions constitute a clear and present danger to the nation’s economic, social and political wellbeing. “The attack on the Forcados Export Terminal that has affected gas production by oil firms and reduced gas supply to power generating plants and the shutdown of Utorogu gas plant are totally condemnable and cannot be allowed to continue,” he said.

The minister said the administration would not do anything to abridge the constitutional rights of any individual or group to carry out protests. He however warned that the administration would not tolerate a situation where people hide under the guise of legitimate protests to sabotage power infrastructure.

“The shutdown of the national transmission facility in Osogbo and the Ikeja Disco by some unionists amount to economic sabotage,” he added. Mohammed said government was not unaware that as it steps up the fight against corruption, corruption would vigorously fight back in many forms which include destruction/sabotage of key national infrastructure to make the government look bad. “However, nothing will make this government to slow down in its anti-corruption fight and no one who is corrupt will be spared,” he warned. He appealed to Nigerians to join hands with the government to check the activities of unpatriotic elements working against the interest of the people. “When oil and gas facilities are vandalised, the impact is felt directly by Nigerians; when power infrastructure is sabotaged for whatever reasons, Nigerians bear the brunt.

“While those actions may be aimed at discrediting the government, those who pay the price are the vast majority of innocent, law-abiding and well-meaning Nigerians, not just the vandals or the saboteurs,’ he added. The minister, however, noted that the power situation was gradually improving as generation had now increased to around 4,000 megawatts. He said the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, had assured that the prevailing fuel queues would gradually ease in the next few days. Meanwhile, lack of adequate functional facilities in the downstream sector has emerged as fresh fact for the prolonged fuel scarcity in the nation.

Investigations showed that many depots and pipelines were not in operational condition required to move fuel from one part of the nation to another. For instance, it was gathered that the poor state of the depots, including Mosimi and Ibadan has affected the distribution of fuel in the south west. It was learnt that increased pipeline vandalism in the south west has also crippled distribution of fuel from the depots to other locations. This has compelled operators to over-depend on the use of tankers in moving products from one place to another. A tanker driver, who preferred not to be named, said it takes longer time and energy to lift from the depots to retail outlets.

Consequently, a survey showed that many stations; including Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, mega stations did not have the product over the weekend. Long queues still persist in many outlets visited in Lagos and its environs. Black market operators have also made a return to the scene as they were seen hawking the product in ‘jerry cans’ at exorbitant prices. The price of five litres of fuel went up from N1,000 to between N1,500 and N2,000, depending on location. NNPC has at various times disclosed that it has made available commercial fuel for domestic consumption. But National President, Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, branch of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Salimon Akanni Oladiti, accused the Corporation of being behind the current scarcity in some parts of the country. He accused NNPC of not importing enough products into the country.

National Mirror

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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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