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Illegal warehouses stocked with fabrics uncovered in Kano

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…As Libya closes power station following tanker bombing

Comptroller-General of Customs, Dikko Abdullahi declared in Kano yesterday that Customs has identified about 75 warehouses where contraband textile materials worth about N319.9 billion were stored.

He also vowed to prosecute four Chinese nationals linked with the smuggling of the textile materials.

“We are investigating the suspects and in only one warehouse, the duty value of the goods in this warehouse we have checked is N4.2bn. You can imagine that this only one warehouse and we are talking of about 75 warehouses. You can imagine such a huge amount and we said we are looking for money to run the affairs of government,” he said.

According to him, the operation was carried out by his office based on information from patriotic Nigerians who showed concern over the extent of damage done to the nation’s economy by those who smuggle textile materials into the country.

He, however, stated that while inspecting the seizures, “we have seen those that can be allowed to enter the market. For those that are allowed, I am going to give amnesty but for those that are not allowed, I will never go against the law. We will block all the leakages.”

He noted that NCS has continued to devise means to curtail smuggling, adding that just recently, Comptrollers-General of Customs in West Africa met in Abuja to discuss ways through which Customs can effectively fight smuggling.

He also hinted that the Customs service has concluded plans to organise a forum whereby traders, local producers and the Customs meet from time to time in order to foster cordial relationship and stem smuggling of contraband goods into the country.

Also speaking Comptroller-General of Immigration, David Paradang, said the Immigration is collaborating with Customs to regulate illegal migration into the country, just as he tasked the public to divulge relevant information to the two agencies.

Meanwhile, following the bombing of one of its tankers by the internationally recognized government forces, the National Oil Corporation of Libya called on the eastern forces to stop the damaging attacks.

NOC condemned the attack in a statement, saying the incident had considerable harmful consequences on the national economy and the lives of the Libyan people as it was targeted directly at the property of the Libyan people.

“We appeal to everyone in a position of authority to prevent targeting of economic potential of the country’s infrastructure because of its large impact on Libya’s security and stability, jeopardizing the country’s future,” NOC said.

A power station in a central Libyan city has shut down from lack of fuel, which was supposed to be provided by the tanker that was set ablaze by air strikes on Sunday.

The bombing has hampered NOC from ensuring the necessary fuel and, due to the incident; bringing fuel to the area will become even more difficult as it has proved to be a highly risky task. Shipping companies would be asking higher rates as a way of insurance to dare to send a ship in the region.

According to NOC, the incident results in the waste of public money, inflicting damages to national companies in a time when the country faces a dire need for power supply.

Anwaar Afriqya, carrying  30,000 litres of fuel, was anchored to offload fuel cargo at a terminal near the city of Sirte intended for a nearby power station on Sunday when it was bombed by warplanes.

The warplanes are believed to had targeted the tanker under suspicion that it was carrying fighters loyal to the rival government based in Tripoli, Bloomberg informed, citing Rida Issa, head of central Libya’s coastguard unit.

The bombing resulted in a fire in the tanker’s cockpit that was put out by the ship’s crew later in the day. NOC said that two crew members were injured in the incident.

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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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