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Govt spends N3.5b on Zaria-Kaura Namoda rail rehabilitation

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Not less than N3.5 billion has been used by the Federal Government to rehabilitate the Zaria-Funtua-Kaura Namoda rail lines, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Sahabi Ya’u has said.

The legislator told newsmen in Kaura Namoda, Zamfara, that government was doing its best to make transportation easier for the people in spite of the costly nature of constructing rail lines.

He said the federal government decided to embark on the rehabilitation of existing rail lines to facilitate movement of goods and people, until when it would provide modern rail lines.

The senator revealed that the construction of a modern rail line linking Kaduna and Abuja had reached 80 percent completion, while a contract had been awarded for that of Lagos to Ibadan.

Giving an insight into the benefits that will accrue from the successful completion of the project, Ya’u said: “Businessmen and civil servants who choose to live in Kaduna while working in Abuja can conveniently travel to Abuja, finish their businesses at the close of work and return to their families.

“These trains run at a speed of about 200 kilometres per hour. So, within an hour, a traveller between Kaduna and Abuja can reach his destination at high comfort and at very little cost”.

Ya’u who represents the Zamfara North Senatorial District enjoined the people of the area to give the government, especially the contractors handling the project the desired support and cooperation needed for the rail lines to be completed as scheduled.

Meanwhile, the former Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transport, Mr. Nebolisa Emodi, highlighted the ministry’s milestone achievements in actualizing the transformation agenda of the Federal Government.

These include resuscitation and revitalization of the Nigerian railway system for the haulage of goods and carriage of passengers, completion of feasibility studies on rail system, increased use of inland waterways to stimulate economic activities, enhancement of maritime safety and security and good welfare system for the staff.

Emordi stated this in Abuja when the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HCSOF) Alh,Bukar Goni Aji led the peer review team to the ministry as part of reform agenda initiated by the federal government to move the civil service forward.

He stated that the rehabilitation of western line, Lagos- Kano 1,124 kilometres is completed and functional, while work on the Eastern line, Port Harcourt– Maiduguri 1,657 kilometres is progressing steadily with the Port Harcourt – Jos station, including the branch line from Kafanchan to Kaduna to be completed by the end of this month.

He revealed that the construction of Abuja (Idu) – Kaduna Standard Gauge rail is 85 percent completed, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2014, noting that the construction of Lagos – lbadan standard gauge (double track ) 2 x180 kilometres has been awarded.

In the area of safety and security arrangement initiated by the ministry, he said that there was a provision of automated access control system which prevents intruders to have access to the premises adding that vehicle underground scanners were installed at the entrance gate to check all incoming vehicles among others.

Emordi who expressed his delight for the visiting team admitted that there was a strong cordial relationship and understanding between the management and the joint unions saying that issues are resolved through dialogue.—International Trade Monitor

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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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ADEBAYO SARUMI: Doyen of Maritime Industry Marks 80th Anniversary, Saturday 

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