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LPC: Adoption of ‘force’ may spread strike into other ports

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…As ANLCA plans for nationwide solidarity actions

Contrary to assurances of the Nigeria Police in Lagos, and that of the Apapa Port Manager that the authorities had broken up the eight-day freight forwarders induced work-stoppage at Apapa Port, the Maritime First may today authoritatively report, that the end of the strike may still not be in sight.

(L-R) National Treasurer- Alhaji Bojuri Akinsola, Acting Assistant National Secretary-Tope Ogungbemile, Zonal Secretary, West-Alhaji Liasu Oyekangu, National Financial Secretary- Dada Agubuzo, National Vice President- Emenike Nwokeoji, National President- Prince Olayiwola Shittu, Chairman, BOT- Chief Henry Njoku and Hon. Tony Iju Nwabunike.

(L-R) National Treasurer- Alhaji Bojuri Akinsola, Acting Assistant National Secretary-Tope Ogungbemile, Zonal Secretary, West-Alhaji Liasu Oyekangu, National Financial Secretary- Dada Agubuzo, National Vice President- Emenike Nwokeoji, National President- Prince Olayiwola Shittu, Chairman, BOT- Chief Henry Njoku and Hon. Tony Iju Nwabunike.

The strike action, may rather, as a result of the forceful approach adopted to quell it, now spread to other ports, with dire consequences.

The high command of the nation’s freight forwarders and Customs brokers at an emergency meeting held on Wednesday while the police and the  Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) were celebrating quelling the strike, decided that not only should the Apapa Chapter of the units on strike be backed by monies, the strike should now spread, to  presently peaceful ports, in solidarity with those at the Lagos Port Complex.

Registrar/CEO of CRFFN- Sir Mike Jukwe (L), Vice President –Emenike Nwokeoji (M) and National President-Prince Olayiwola Shittu.

Registrar/CEO of CRFFN- Sir Mike Jukwe (L), Vice President –Emenike Nwokeoji (M) and National President-Prince Olayiwola Shittu.

Joe Sanni, the Director of Media and Publicity of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), told the Maritime First Thursday morning, that the body was particularly miffed with an approach, which exemplified force, rather than dialogue.

“On the on-going, sustained withdrawal of services by members at the Apapa Port complex, the association stoutly rose in support of the action, and called for a total involvement of all chapters, spread across the nation, in solidarity with the Apapa Chapter’s strike action” Joe said, adding that for this reason, “all chapters”, would subsequently embark on peaceful withdrawal of services, in solidarity with those in Apapa.

The body assured Nigerians that they would defend the nation’s economic interest against those who believe that, “when Nigerians are hungry, they will go back to work.” 

“This unsolicited, unwarranted and undeserved comments, infuriated protesters on end. Rather than douse the embers of anger arising from the barefaced fleecing of Nigerians of their hard earned money, … they rely on, aggravating the situation. 

“An all-encompassing strike is still in the offing, which is likely to commence very soon in all the ports”, he stated further, adding that National officers have pledged various sums of money in order to pursue the action to its logical conclusion. 

The meeting which was attended by the Registrar of Council for Regulations of Freight Forwarders of Nigeria ( CRFFN), Sir Mike Jukwe  in according with the Act of parliament establishing it, to witness proceedings of Associations registered by it; also resolved to challenge the authority of the Standard Organization of Nigeria ( SON) to continue its collection of levies from the ports, without remitting it to the Federation account. 

“Similarly the shipping companies and terminal operators would similarly “be checkmated in their inordinate desire to continuously extort Nigerians”, the association indicated further.

No person at the Nigerian Shippers Council was willing to comment on the development, except a man in the administration who pleaded for anonymity because he was not authorized to say anything.

“Now, it looks like what the Council was not allowed to do via dialogues, the freight forwarders are ready to achieve by force”, he said, praying his hope, that it would not come with avoidable consequences. 

It would be recalled that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa, Mr. Akeem Smith yesterday assured port users including importers and agents of their safety and security in the port, saying the Force has been placed on high alert to check any breach of law and order as the nation’s major seaport re-opened for business activities after eight days of blockade by some clearing agents.

And speaking in the same vein, the Lagos Port Manager, (LPC) Mr. Nasir Anas Mohammed had squall assured that the port was now freed.

“The port is now open and people are free to come in and transact their business,”, Mr. Nasir Anas Mohammed said, pointing out that the Police Force and other security operatives had been put on alert to provide adequate security to anyone willing to transact business at the port.

“We have informed the agents that while they have the right to protest, they do not have the right to blockade the port or disturb others who have legitimate transactions to carry out at the port.

“So we have informed them and they have also seen reason with us. We assure all port users that their security is guaranteed. The Police and relevant security operatives have been duly informed and they have assured that adequate security will be provided to all port users.

“Trucks are free to come into the port, load and exit without entertaining any fear,” the Port Manager, on Wednesday, had said further.

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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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