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Grimaldi Bows To Pressure, Introduces E-Payment System

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  • As Tompolo asks A-Court to set aside arrest warrant

Leading RORO shipping group, Grimaldi may have bowed to stakeholders’ pressure as it unveiled a new electronic payment platform through its web portal, to enhance it’s services efficiency and effectiveness.

Managing Director of Grimaldi Agency Nigeria Limited, Mr. Ascanio Russo said the new e-services would not only enable customers view ship rotation numbers of previous eleven vessel calls,  but also, five upcoming Grimaldi vessel calls to its terminal, PTML Terminal in Lagos.

“With this new portal that we have launched, our export customers can also look at the expected vessel schedule for their planning.

“They can generate estimates by following some simple steps on the same web portal and make invoice payment for containers, vehicles and general cargo using their internet Bank NIBSS payment platform or through any debit/credit card or just simply walking into any bank branch nationwide,” indicated Mr. Russell, noting that the new e-service will enhance delivery of cargo at the port as it is fast, convenient, secure and available every day of the week including weekends, all year round.

“Customers need not come or call our office to check for rotation numbers or ETA of vessels. They are updated real time and hence the most recent information is available.

“Customers and agents do not need to wade through the busy Lagos traffic to obtain estimates from agency and terminal operators or make payments and they can make savings on bank charges as well as save transportation time and costs.

“By deploying the first encompassing e-payment platform in the Nigeria shipping industry we allow importers and agents to view and pay their invoices online in the comfort of their office”,  he stated further, adding that in spite of the huge drop in cargo volume at the terminal occasioned by the National Automotive Policy, Grimaldi Agency and PTML Terminal would continue to introduce innovative ways to enhance service delivery to its customers and make life easier for them.

“We witnessed more than 70 percent drop in roro traffic at the terminal last year because of the high import duties as a result of the auto policy which fuelled diversion of vehicles to the Port of Cotonou but despite this, we remain committed to enhancing our operations.

“We also remain committed to helping government achieve speedy clearance of cargo at the port and enhancing revenue collection,” he said.

The Grimaldi Group has been offering shipping services to Nigeria for over 40 years and in 2005 signed an agreement with the Federal Government of Nigeria to develop a new terminal – Ports & Terminal Multiservices Ltd (PTML) – in Tin Can Island Port on BOT basis.

Under the BOT agreement – the first of its kind signed by the Federal Government in the maritime sector – Grimaldi assumed the obligation to build the new infrastructure at its own cost, to manage it for 25 years, to pay royalties to the Nigerian Port Authority and to return it at the end of the concession to the Federal Government.

The first phase of the Terminal – which entailed the construction of a new 220mt berth, the paving of 220,000 sqm and the provision of all necessary infrastructure – was commissioned in a record 16 months. Since then the Terminal has continued to grow and today with an area of over 350,000 sqm and a quay length of 600 meter, it is the largest Ro/Ro terminal in West Africa, with an annual throughput of over 100,000 containers; 150,000 vehicles and 200,000 tons of general cargo.

Meanwhile, embattled ex-militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, (alias Tompolo), has told the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos to set aside the order of a Federal High Court, Lagos, which issued a bench warrant for his arrest.

It will be recalled that on January 14, 2016, trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court, Lagos, issued a warrant for Tompolo’s arrest following an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

EFCC had filed a charge against Tompolo and nine others, over allegation of money laundering and stealing of about N34 billion belonging to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA.

But on January 27, 2016, Tompolo filed an application before the court, to set aside the said warrant of arrest. On February 8, 2016, the said application was argued and dismissed by the court. Tompolo, thereafter, filed an appeal against the ruling of the lower court, on February 18, 2016.

Tompolo, in the appeal by the law firms of Tayo Oyetibo, SAN and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, is complaining that the learned trial court erred in law, in refusing to set aside the warrant of arrest issued against him, when there was no evidence to show that he had been notified of the summons and the criminal charge pending against him, before the court.

Tompolo also complained that the trail court should have ascertained that the EFCC duly complied with the order of the court for substituted service, by posting the charge at the correct address as contained in the order of the court.

According to him, the application leading to the issuance of the warrant of arrest was not competently placed before the court, as the counsel that signed and filed it on behalf of the EFCC failed to affix his seal thereto, as required by law.

Tompolo is thus asking the Court of Appeal to set aside the warrant for his arrest and vacate all subsequent proceedings emanating from the flawed process of the criminal charge. He is further seeking that the charge against him should be transferred from the current judge, to another judge of the Federal High Court.

He added that he is a law abiding citizen who is only demanding the Federal Government should show compliance with the rule of law and due process, in the filing and prosecution of any crime that may be alleged against him.

He also want the relevant law enforcement agencies to be notified with the details of the appeal, so that they may be well cautioned from taking undue advantage of the criminal charge to wreck havoc upon Gbaramatu Kingdom, Delta State or to harass the family, relatives, friends and well his wishers.

Additional report from Vanguard

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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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