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Inflation rises to near four-year high of 12.8%

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  • NNPC says it is releasing to 1,500 trucks daily,  to contain fuel scarcity

The National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday released the Consumer Price Index report for the month of March, with the inflation rate rising from 11.4 per cent in February to 12.8 per cent.

The 12.8 per cent index for March, which is the highest in almost four years, is an increase of 1.4 percentage points from what was recorded in February.

The last time Nigeria recorded inflation that high was in May 2011 when the rate was 13.15 per cent.

The bureau attributed the rise to the increase in transportation costs, the planting season and pressures from the foreign exchange market.

The report read in part, “In March, the Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation, recorded a sharp rise for the second consecutive month.

“The headline index increased by 12.8 per cent (year-on-year), roughly 1.4 per cent points higher from rates recorded in February (11.4 per cent), reflecting an increase in the prices of goods and services across the nation to a year-on-year high last recorded in July of 2012.

“The higher price level was reflected in faster increases across all divisions, which contribute to the index with the exception of the restaurants and hotels division, which increased, albeit at a slower pace for the second consecutive month.

“Transportation costs, the planting season, and foreign exchange movements created significant upward pressures on the food index.”

The food index, according to the report, increased by 12.7 per cent, up by 1.4 per cent points from rates recorded in February, as all major food groups, which contribute to the food sub-index, increased at a faster pace.

Also on Tuesday, the NBS stated that on the average, Nigerians paid the sum of N135.69 per litre for petrol.

The report, a copy of which was made available to our correspondent by the NBS, is based on the actual amount spent by households on the purchase of petrol across the federation.

According to the report, consumers in Nasarawa State paid the highest amount of N166.67 for the product. This was followed by Cross Rivers and Sokoto states, where petrol was sold at N160 per litre.

Residents bought the product at N143.17 in Zamfara; Yobe, N145.54; Taraba, N153.3; Katsina, N155.58; Jigawa, N143.08; Imo, N143.08; and Gombe, N151.67.

Similarly, the product was sold for N144.58 per litre in Enugu; Edo, N129; Ebonyi, N155; Bayelsa, N146; Bauchi, N156.67; Anambra, N136.47; Akwa Ibom, N148; Adamawa, N133.5; Abuja, N104.9; and Abia, N148.13.

In the meantime, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, yesterday, apologised for the lingering fuel scarcity in the country. It, however, assured that the problem has been resolved with adequate supply of premium motor spirit, PMS, through import and the local refineries.

Spokesman for the NNPC, Garba Deen Mohammed, and the group executive directors Mr. Bello Rabiu (Upstream), Henry Obih (Downstream) and Anibor Kragha (Refineries), told state House Correspondents that five vessels have berthed in the ports discharging products. According to Bello, the ships are in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Warri ports to complement importation by private dealers – all discharging at least 120 million litres of products.

Bello said in moving the products hinterlands, the NNPC has the only option of trucking as most of the pipelines are not working. He said the NNPC is in a position to take PMS from the Atlas cove jetty up to Ibadan while the rest of the distribution is being done through the depots in the Lagos area. “We are almost on 100 per cent on trucking to the hinterland; that is the only way we can get it to the whole market but the plan is that going forward from today we want to ensure that we give more than is require in the whole country.

“The actual requirement of the country is just 1,300 trucks but our plan is to make at least 1,500 trucks available every day until all the problems are solved. “We want to make sure that we saturate the market in a very short time and presently, Lagos is cleared, Abuja is getting better and other places will follow,’’ he said. Bello added that the NNPC pushed 160 trucks into the cities across the country on Tuesday. “We are now in a position to say that each state’s demand has been captured; we know the need and we are trying to ensure that all the states are supplied,’’ he added.

He said henceforth, the corporation is ready to announce the daily supply of PMS to the states and that the governors have expressed readiness to put task forces in place to ensure that the products are delivered to consumers. He said the NNPC is ready to ensure there is no repeat of the scarcity. “On behalf of the management of the NNPC, we are sorry for what has happened and we are working very hard to ensure that this thing will not happen again.

“Going forward, we are ensuring that we don’t have this again and we are doing everything possible to have in-country storage – a strategic storage that will not allow us to go into this situation. “Once our depots in the country are actually wet, it will not take anybody more than four hours to take the products from our depots to his station.’’ Bello said once the pipelines were revived, products would move further into other parts of the country. “We are doing three things at the same time: ensuring sustainable imports, making sure that refineries work and the pipelines also work.

“That will reduce all these incidences and once we achieve that stability, queues in Nigeria will be a thing of the past,’’ he assured. He also urged Nigerians to reduce the tension in the country by not wasting time in the filling stations, adding that all the stations in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT as at yesterday had been supplied with fuel.

“Not a single station in Abuja is dry and we will sustain this to ensure that no station is left unattended not only in Abuja but also the states around Abuja,’’ Bello added. He said the corporation is making sure that trucking is efficient having solved the supply problems.

Meanwhile, for diverting the scarce PMS, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, yesterday dispensed the product free to cheering motorists along the Zuba-Kaduna expressway. An enforcement team of DPR led by its director, Mr. Mordecai Ladan, monitored the sale of the product on the Zuba- Kaduna expressway when it discovered that petrol stations on Kaduna road, Gaoraka-Suleja in Niger State had diverted about 100,000 litres of PMS that they had loaded from the NNPC depots on Tuesday.

Ladan’s team stormed Zen Hajad Limited, ZHL, petrol station, and discovered that although the manifest showed that the company lifted 60,000 litres, it never delivered it to the station. The station looked deserted and the security guard revealed that no product had been delivered to the station in the last one month.

Ladan was surprised about what he described as sabotage and diversion of the intervention product meant to cushion the fuel scarcity in the country.

He said: “From the manifest from the depot, the station yesterday (Tuesday) lifted about 60,000 litres of PMS as intervention for the crisis currently being faced. So, as part of our monitoring activities we have come to confirm if the 60,000 liters were delivered but as you can see there is nothing of such.” He added that the DPR team was surprised that the station was given fuel for intervention because it had not been licensed for over a year. As part of the sanctions for the offense of the company, the director said the company would pay N200 for each of the 60,000 liters and the petrol station would be sealed up.

Upshot with additional report from National Mirror

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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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