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Making Nigeria a Hub of Maritime Activities

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Few weeks ago, Onne Port played host to WAFMAX, the biggest vessel to have made a sail into any port not only in Nigeria but the West and Central Africa in general, notwithstanding the sea port at Tema in Ghanan or Lome in Togo Nigeria has only river ports with long channels linking them with the sea. It is only now that the country has consider it necessary to develop a deep sea port at Lekki, Badagry and Ibaka in Akwa Ibom State.

The West African Maximum (WAFMAX) size vessel sailed into Onne port with ease, although after a pre-trial call, which served as experimental call to de-termine the level of success during the actual and real navigation into the port by the same vessel

The success of navigation into Onne port was due to the relentless efforts of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) that dredged and redesigned the Port Harcourt channel in concert with its joint venture company, the Bonny Channel Company.

We commend the Nigerian Ports Authority that made this possible, especially as the Shipping giant, Maersk Shipping line intends to deploy 10 more ship of the same size to Nigeria and the rest of West Africa. The company has the plan also to increase the present call time at the Nigerian port from one to two a week, each carrying 45,000 containers to be discharged at the ports.
The frequency of call of this vessel, together with calls by other vessels of the same size are expected to transform Nigeria into a hub of maritime activities as containers belonging to Nigeria land- locked neighbours like Chad and Niger will first have Nigeria as their destination before trans-shipment to their final destination.

We say well done to the Nigerian Ports Authority for this show of patriotism and selfless service to the nation and for working hard to ensure the successful en-try of this vessel in the country.

This effort by the NPA will need to be complemented by other agencies of the government to actualize NPA’s vision: to make Nigeria a hub of shipping activities in the sub-region realizable.

Chiefly among these agencies is the security forces which are now required to ensure peaceful environ-ment needed for the emergence of the hub port in Nigeria.

The absence of peace in the country, especially where the ports are located could mess up NPA’s transformation agenda for the Nigerian ports.

As there are many other factors to determine the emergence of a hub port, the Federal Government will need to reform the land and rail transport to make them more effective and readily for use by land lock countries that will eventually rely on Nigeria for trans-shipment.

The everyday bottleneck between Mile 2 and Apapa must also be removed for ease of goods movement, es-pecially those with landlocked countries, to their final destination.

Efforts aimed at the actualization of 48 hours clear-ing of goods at the port must now be reinvigorated so that goods meant for transshipment are delivered to their owners well on time.

Besides, everything that is needed to facilitate trade must be provided at the ports. The one stop shop for clearing at the port must be put in place while it is here advocated that electronic clearing devices be put in place to reduce human contact during clearing process. This will go a long way at reducing the high level of corruption at the ports. This advice is coming on the heels of the plan to increase the vessels call from one to two every week.

The increase in calls will no double task our ability to promote trade through quick clearance of goods, in order to avoid congestion at the ports.

SOURCE: INTERNATIONAL TRADE MONITOR

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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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