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Fuel queues may return this weekend as petroleum minister shuns reps

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Queues of motorists at petrol filling stations may resurface at the weekend if the ongoing strike by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation branches of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria is not called off.

The strike, which commenced on Monday, was as a result of the withdrawal of the operating licence of the NNPC/Department of Petroleum Resources’ closed pension scheme.

A source in the industry, who did not want to be quoted, said if things were not resolved, queues might reappear at filling stations nationwide by the weekend.

The Lagos Zonal Chairman, NUPENG, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, said that the products at most filling stations were from private tank farms, except for reserves from some NNPC partially or fully-run tank farms.

He said tank farms with any form of collaboration with the NNPC were also not loading, but added that meetings were still ongoing with the NNPC management to resolve the problem.

According to Korodo, if the talks fail, the unions may call for solidarity support from all union members in the industry, which will result in a total shutdown of industry operations.

“We want to make this clear. It is not Nigerians that are the problems. We don’t want to unnecessarily punish Nigerians. The point is that if the NNPC continues to neglect our demands, we will then call for the solidarity support and ground all operations.”

Also speaking, the Chairman, DPR branch of PENGASSAN, Mr. Amba Ndoma-Egba, said there was no going back on the strike, adding, “All NNPC/DPR facilities nationwide have been shut, including the offices.”

He also said, “This action will continue until all our demands are met. This action by these unions will soon cause fuel scarcity as the DPR is in charge of clearing of vessels that bring imported petroleum products into the country.

“We also gathered that the NNPC unions have also asked their members in all the refineries and the PPMC depots nationwide to down tools, which has also compounded the problem.”

He said all PENGASSAN and NUPENG staff members had been withdrawn from the terminals, depots and jetties nationwide.

Ndoma-Egba lamented paying lip service by the government to the issues affecting the DPR in spite of the strategic place it occupied in revenue generation in the country.

The spokesperson of the DPR branch of PENGASSAN, Mr. Michael Kambi, confirmed on Wednesday that the strike would continue until the licence was restored as the workers could not afford to go to the open pension scheme, where pension funds had been growing wings.

Meanhwile, the Minister for Petroleum Resources, Deizeani Allison-Madueke, yesterday failed to appear before the House of Representatives joint committees on petroleum and gas resources.

The committees on Wednesday summoned the minister and others, to explain the cause of the current fuel crisis in the country.
Others summoned are the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Joseph Dawah and leadership of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN).
The Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers (NUPENG) was also invited.
Chairman, Petroleum Resources Committee (Upstream), Rep. Muraina Adebola, condemned the absence of the invitees, adding that the committees would not allow strike to cripple the nation’s oil and gas sector.
According to him,”We need to perform our duties as parliaments and ensure that the strike is brought to an end so that it will not affect other aspects of our economy.

“There is need for us to know the causes so that we can prevail on Mr President and members of the executive council to look into those issues”.

The committees, therefore, re-summoned them to appear on Sept. 23 at 11 a.m.—Ships and Ports

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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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