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Maritime Industry on Alert amid Zika Outbreak

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  • As three Stowaways on Europe Bound Ship Arrested; Suspects Say They’re Tired of Suffering in Nigeria

Due to the outbreak of the Zika virus, the maritime industry is on standby for any symptoms of the virus that vessel crew members or passengers might be experiencing, according to US-based GAC.

As the World Health Organization designated the Zika virus as a global public health emergency, all vessel and facility representatives were urged to report any signs of hazardous conditions and illnesses within the last 15 days to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Cruise line companies have already started informing their passengers about the virus and, because of a possible link between birth defects and Zika infection during pregnancy, the lines are allowing pregnant women to change itineraries or cancel their trips.

A Carnival Cruise Lines spokesperson told ABC News that their employees are being provided with a choice to avoid working in Zika-affected areas.

The virus has spread throughout America since it was first detected in May 2015 in Brazil.

Zika is a virus that is spread by mosquitoes, and in rare cases it may be spread via blood transfusions, sexual contact, and from mother to child in the womb.

Most people who get Zika will not have any symptoms, however, those who do get symptoms could experience a fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, and muscle pain or a headache.

It is uncommon for people infected with the Zika virus to require hospitalization, and deaths are rare.

GAC called on the seafarers to take preventive measures to avoid mosquito bites including avoiding/limiting outdoor activities one hour before and after dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active; covering exposed skin; and using insect repellents.

Meanwhile, operatives of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT, have arrested three Nigerians, Okechukwu Obi, Joseph Tunji and Ismaila Olaniyi in Europe bound merchant ship.

They were arrested on board MT TORM MARINS where the vessel was berthed at National Oil , Apapa, Lagos.
They have already been handed over the Police for prosecution.

The three suspects had boarded the ship through the rudder trunk as the ship was discharging petroleum products.

NNS BEECROFT, Commodore Abraham Adaji during the hand over to the Police said investigation showed the three wanted to travel overseas illegally.

He said that luck ran out for the three as they were discovered by the crew during a routine maintenance.

According to him, “This would be the third time Okechukwo Obi would be arrested by naval operatives from BEECROFT. He was arrested in December but because the ship he illegally boarded had concluded her transaction in Nigeria and was about leaving, there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prosecute him and so, he was warned and released.

“Surprisingly, two weeks after that incident he was arrested again, during our investigation, it was discovered that this would be the third time he has been arrested while trying to travel onboard a ship illegally.

“We are appealing to the Police to diligently prosecute the suspects as their actions show that they would do all within their means to board another ship illegally.

“They may not be so lucky next time as the ship’s crew might throw them overboard for fishes to eat while at sea”..
Obi however in his defence said he would rather die instead of remaining in Nigeria to suffer.

He was quoted: “If God says I should die, then I die. All those people that were arrested with me last year have all travelled. All of them are in Brazil and they are always calling me.

“I must make it because I am tired of this life. Anytime you go out to look for job, they will ask you to go and bring surety. Where will I get surety? I only have my grandmother who is in the village in Imo State.

“I went to learn how to repair generator and I was told to bring surety. I don’t have a house. I sleep inside bus where I work as conductor and get N500 or N700 daily. How will I survive?

“I have made up my mind that I must go to Brazil like my friends. We bought two bags of pure water, gala and garri that was supposes to last us 20 days on the journey. But we have finished them here. I will keep trying until I succeed,”.
Other suspects also said they were fed up with the suffering in the country.

World Maritime News with additional report from Shipping day

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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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