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FOU Lagos loses seizures to inferno

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  • Kachikwu declares that PH,Warri refineries are now producing petrol

The Lagos State Fire Service was Friday night engaged in a battle to finish war, as it took on a mysterious fire which engulfed some section of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), an anti-smuggling arm of the Nigeria Customs Service, located at Ikeja, saving the Government warehouse and the goods therein, valued several billions.

Customs officers, particularly the guards, according to eye witnesses, first got winds of the fire, when they sighted smokes billowing into the air; and promptly notified every relevant body, especially the nearby Lagos Fire Service, the Lagos State Environmental Management Agency (LASEMA) and their Controllers.

DSC UCHE EJESIEME

DSC UCHE EJESIEME

“We cannot say exactly where the fire started. Some of us are seriously suspecting one of the classrooms. But some are saying it started from section of the warehouse, where highly combustible seizures, like used tyres are kept”, an eyewitness who pleaded for anonymity told Maritime First, noting however, that the fire spread too quickly in both directions wrecking havocs, as fire-fighters battled it with vigour and determination.

By Saturday morning, the Customs Zonal Coordinator, the FOU Controller, the DCG Enforcement and Investigation, as well as the DCG Human Resources were on ground alongside other top officers, each contributing his efforts towards containing the fire.

Used_Car_Tyres_Secondhand_Car_TyresThe image maker of the command, Uche Ejesieme while lauding the fire officers and the Customs personnel on ground, however thanked God that no life was lost, even as he indicated that no documents, or transfer papers was affected.

“All relevant documents and transferred papers are intact. However we are presently not in any position to determine the extent of destruction in terms of value.

“We cannot quantify the extent of what was destroyed until when the auditors come to look at the books, to know exactly the value of what was burned. Just as we also cannot determine the cause of the fire until LASEMA concludes its investigation.

“But this much I can say, there is no casualty, and up till now you can still see the men of Lagos Fire Service and LASEMA on ground to ensure that the fire is totally brought under control.

Tasked on a question, Ejesieme also confirmed that the inferno did not affect last month’s presidential directive to customs to give out certain seizures to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), because over 90percent of the material had already been loaded and relocated to the designated area, while the remaining less than 10 percent is at the moment undergoing haulage.

“No IDPs material was affected”, the image maker stated further, foreclosing any room for nasty insinuations that the inferno may have ulterior motives.

A senior officer of the command, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said it would be easy to determine the extent of what was destroyed since independent auditors only a few days back concluded a comprehensive audit of everything in the warehouse.

When the Maritime First correspondent arrived the scene today, it met the heavy presence of the Lagos Fire Service and the LASEMA with their different fire fighting equipment most of them on standby as the weakening smoke still filter into the air.

The correspondent also noted that the section of the government warehouse, housing combustible materials like used tyre, used shoes, bags, used clothes, etc. was seriously affected; a self-explanatory situation, which actually showed why the fire was seriously problematic to contain.

As at the time of filling the report smoke was still bellowing ceaselessly into the air, even as battle ready fire fighters stood sentry.

“You can see we have brought the fire to its knees”, a tired looking fire officer stated adding that what was left was for them to end the smokes.

In the meantime, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has announced that the Port Harcourt Refining Company and the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company are now producing a combined volume of seven million litres of petrol daily.

According to him, the PHRC now produces five million litres of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, while the WRPC produces two million litres of the product daily.

Kachikwu, in a statement from the NNPC on Sunday, said this while reopening the Bonny-Port Harcourt crude pipeline.

This is coming as queues for petrol in Abuja and neighbouring cities continued on Sunday.

Hundreds of motorists were seen at the few filling stations that dispensed the product.

However, the minister said in the statement that the government was doing all it could to clear the queues, as he noted that the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company was also scheduled to start production any moment from now.

Kachikwu said the coming on stream of the three refineries would go a long way in ensuring sufficient supply and distribution of petrol across the country.

The minister said the NNPC had been able to recover the Escravos to Warri and Bonny to Port Harcourt crude supply pipelines, stressing that they were critical to the downstream oil sector.

“Port Harcourt is back in production; Warri is back in production; Kaduna, as of today, is receiving crude and will soon be back in production. Lagos is easing off now from fuel scarcity and Abuja is doing the same thing; and once Kaduna begins production, the North will see a lot of improvement,” Kachikwu stated.

The minister said a commercial governance model system had been introduced into the management of the refineries to enable them to compete favourably in the hydrocarbon value chain.

He explained, “What we have done is to find a very creative way of bringing investors who will come in, work with our team here who have the skills, reactivate and upgrade facilities in these refineries.

“The investors will also help us to provide technical support and they will be paid through the flow out of refined products over a period of time, which is why we have also changed the refining model such that the refineries pay for their crude, so it goes into the Federation Account.”

Kachikwu added that the refineries would sell their products to both the Nigerian Petroleum Marketing Company and the marketers.

He insisted that the government would not sell the refineries contrary to claims in some quarters.

“We are not inviting foreign partners to take over the refineries; we do not have the funds. Even now that they are working, they are probably working at about 60 per cent or below capacity; so, you need to upgrade these refineries and get them to a level where they will operate at 90 per cent capacity or more,” the minister said.

Additional report from Punch

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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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