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Gridlock: Activities Grind to a Halt in Lagos, NUPENG Apologises

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A gridlock arising from petrol tankers which blocked the highways leading to Apapa Thursday compelled commuters to trek to work or their various businesses.

The traffic jam, described as the worst ever in Lagos metropolis, caused untold stress to the commuters and forced many to abandon their destinations and return home.

The development according to an online news medium freedom online-led to the arteries through which motorists could have manoeuvered the traffic being blocked, leaving passengers and drivers lamenting.
Motorists and commuters always travelled with ease as there were usually less traffic on Thursday mornings because of the “Every Thursday’’ sanitation programme in the state.

Some motorists also abandoned their vehicles on the roadside and took other means to their destination in the hope of coming back and pick them up when traffic would have eased.

Reacting, Mrs Blessing Eze, a trader at Lagos Island, said the road congestion had disrupted her commercial activities in the day.

Eze said: “It is not good at all, thousands of Lagosians have resorted to trekking because the roads are blocked. Our driver took all alternative routes but met all met blocked.

“I disembarked from the vehicle which I boarded at Surulere and took to trekking to Lagos Island, which you know is a good distance.’’

Eze said she had spent about one and a half hours trekking from Surelere to Costain, stressing that she would not know when she would get to her business.
Also, Miss Victoria Mbamara, a graduate, described the gridlock as bad and boring.

“I started trekking from Surulere to Lagos, this is very bad, I do not know what could have caused this pain on all of us.

“Our leaders should be proactive in arresting a situation like this that is capable of subjecting citizens to hardship. It’s bad,’’ Mbamara said.
Mr. Wale Ola, a businessman at Apapa, said: “This horrible traffic started yesterday, it is disheartening and highly discouraging.’’

Ola said he would have trekked to Apapa to earn what he needed to make a living.

Mrs. Stella Obiora, a civil servant, described the traffic as terrible and painful. “It is terrible, if this is the kind of change we need, ‘wahala de niye’, (trouble has come). It is quite bad and can earn one a query in office,’’ Obiora said.

In his own view, Mr. Christopher Ogucha, a businessman in Apapa said: “This kind of traffic makes Lagos a boring place to live in. “I don’t know the cause, but the government should have proffered solutions, it is affecting us and our businesses,’’ Ogucha said.

Mr. Gabriel Okocha, another businessman, said that the gridlock was capable of killing one’s business, we pray God to help our leaders do the right.

Meanwhile, many motorists have complained bitterly about the inability of the government to proffer a lasting solution to the gridlocks on Lagos roads.
In his reaction, a motorist who simply introduced himself as Peter, said: “It’s a lot of stress to good people of Lagos who left their homes to search for what to eat. “We have been trapped in this traffic and merry-go-round a lot without getting to our destination, it is quite painful that our leaders are not proactive. “I would have trekked too but where I am going is far, I am not enjoying this anyway,’’ said the civil servant.

Another driver, Mr Sakiru Gbada said: “It is serious, I have spent about three hours on my way to Lagos Island. “The old woman I am taking to Lagos for medical examination is tired of the traffic situation.’’

Mr. Moses Bamgbose, a business owner, who was seen soaked by sweat, said that he resolved to return home because of the gridlock.

“I am not pleased with this situation, it is stressful, tiring and hectic, I am on my way home as I could not find a way for about three hours now to Apapa,’’ Bamgbose said.

The gridlock is noticed in all major roads in the metropolis. However, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), have said that they were on top of the situation.

Mr. Hyginus Omeje, FRSC Lagos Sector Commander, said there had been partnership among the Nigeria Police Force, LASTMA and the corps “to detangle the gridlock.”

“We have been working endlessly since we noticed the gridlock; we have tried to restrict all the tankers that trooped into Lagos to load fuel from all other states to one lane.

He said with the concentration of tank farms in the Apapa area, there should be checks on tank farms without loading bays before the issuance of certificates.

The FRSC boss urged the federal government to endeavour to open other tank farms in Ijebu-Ode and Benin as part of the solutions to the perennial gridlock in the state.

Meanwhile, LASTMA General Manager, Mr. Babatunde Edu, said the authority worked all through the night to arrest the situation by restricting the tankers to a single lane.

“I have not had sleep since yesterday, I have been here working with my men to ensure that the problem is resolved and people can enter Lagos.

“Tankers and other articulated vehicles entering or leaving Apapa should not lock down Lagos, they should obey traffic managers’ directive by restricting their operations to one single lane.

“We are working assiduously to ensure Ikorodu road is gridlock-free, and that no tanker is allowed on Eko Bridge except on Oshodi/Mile 2 road,’’ he said.
Edu blamed the gridlock on the bad roads along the axis, saying that though the Federal Ministry of Works worked on a portion of the road, the unfinished part was a problem.

According to him, for such experience not to recur, the issues of infrastructure decay and lingering fuel scarcity have to be addressed.

The LASTMA boss urged motorists who had no serious business to do in Apapa to avoid the road.
However, the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) yesterday appealed to Lagosians to bear with it over gridlocks caused by petrol tanker drivers in Apapa axis, Lagos.

Mr. Tokunbo Korodo, the South-west Chairman of the union, said in Lagos that the untold hardship was not the  fault of the union members.

“Most of the tankers responsible for the traffic jam came from the northern part of the country to load petroleum products in Lagos.

“It is unfortunate that the tankers came as planned but they brought traffic gridlock to the Apapa axis.
“They were programmed to get the products here (Lagos), but when they got here most of the depots owned by Independent marketers refused to load the tankers.

Meanwhile, Governor Babatunde Fashola has stated that diverse traffic and environmental challenges that plagued Apapa Central Business District could only be tackled if the federal government “effectively discharged his duties.”

The governor decried the distribution of petroleum products to all states of the federation by roads, which he said, had caused more harms than necessary to human lives, public installations and destroyed businesses in the state.

He expressed concerns over Apapa gridlocks while giving the account of stewards in the last eight years he assumed office in Alausa, though apologised for the inconveniences that the residents of Apapa might have gone through.

The governor pointed that Apapa “is one of the many reasons people voted for change at the last elections. This was because it was an inappropriate way to transport petroleum products by road. Such products must be distributed move by rail or other safer means of transportation.”

He, however, noted that the state government “does not control the importation and distribution of petrol in the country. It is a federal responsibility. But the residents of Lagos are the victims of the circumstances that we do not control.
“This is because the federal government is not doing his job effectively. I hope we will be able to transport fuel properly over the next few years by rail. I also hope we will stop the idea where the entire nation will depend on only one source for fuel.

“What we have now in Apapa that is causing pain is about 6, 000 tankers in axis today; trying to lift fuel to supply every part of the nation. Normally on a day where there is not any fuel shortage, you have between 2,000 and 3, 000 tankers coming to Apapa to lift fuel.

“Now that there is a backlog, essentially, the entire country is waiting for fuel from this axis. That was why there are 6, 000 tankers in Apapa at the moment, trying to lift fuel. They are there to serve us, but they have become a problem because it is not the appropriate way to load fuel,” the governor explained.

He assured that the situation would change in few years so that the entire country “will not depend on this axis for fuel again, thereby urging the residents and business owners operating in Apapa “to bear with the state government.”

The governor noted that the operatives of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement Unit) “are doing their best to ensure that traffic in Apapa is managed. But it is just a challenging situation. If we are all patience, things will get better.”

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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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