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Minister, Senator, others applaud port concession, terminal operators

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The Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar has commended terminal operators for their role in stabilising and making Nigerian ports effective and efficient since the port reforms of 2006.

The Minister gave the commendation at a conference tagged ‘Monitoring and Compliance – The Experience of Compliance with Concessioning Agreement Eight Years After’ organized by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Lagos yesterday.

The Minister, who was represented by the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello, said the port concession programme had brought tremendous benefits to the Nigerian economy.

He said, “Prior to concessioning of the ports in 2006, our ports were characterized by high cost, low efficiency, obsolete equipment, leakages and high level of centralization.

“But, since concessioning, there had been increase in both local and foreign investments, in infrastructure and cargo handling equipment which have enhanced cargo throughput.”

Umar said the benefits of port concession can be seen in the rise in volume of trade from 82 million tons of cargo in 2008 to 93.7 million tons in 2009 and 100 million tons in 2012 with container volume of 1.4 million TEUs in 2011; 1.6 million TEUs in 2012 and 1.7million TEUs in 2013.

“The average turnaround time of vessels has also decreased significantly,” he said.

According to him, “The outcome of the reform made NPA a landlord and technical regulator while the ports were delineated into terminals and concessioned to terminal operators who are now responsible for all aspects of cargo handling, operations and upgrade of facilities.”

While stating that a lot more work needs to be done in monitoring compliance with the port concession agreement, the Minister directed NPA to furnish him with current compliance status by the operators.

“I urge you to take advantage of this forum aimed at ensuring compliance with the terms of the port concession agreement to deliberate on the gains and challenges of concession, share ideas as well as brainstorm on the way forward in order to further develop the industry to stimulate economic growth,” the Minister added.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Privatisation, Senator Olugbenga Obadara, in his goodwill address at the event said, “I have visited all the terminals in Lagos and I loved the way the MD of NPA has handled the issue of bonded terminals with passion.

“The NPA MD also makes sure that the bonded terminals were able to keep their business moving.”

Obadara sympathized with terminal operators who have been incurring losses as a result of the drop in import volume and depreciation of the naira, saying: “I know how much the economy has affected your business especially the dollar rate.”

The Senator charged NPA to ensure continuous dredging of the channels to accommodate large vessels.

On his part, Director General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Aminu Diko said terminal operators had served the public good.

Diko who was represented by an Executive Director of the Commission, Chidi Izuah said, “We are pleased to report that in 2014, the terminal operators have improved beyond when they were met in 2011.”

Earlier in his welcome address, Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mallam Habib Abdullahi, commended the terminal operators for giving Nigerian ports a new lease of life.

Abdullahi said that NPA is a direct beneficiary in the partnership with the concesssionaires.

“The port concession arrangements revised roles and allocated different obligations to both NPA and the concessionaries.

“Obligations were allocated based on what each party can do best.

“These issues relating to regulations, security, infrastructure, access, marine service and channel management were allocated to NPA.

“On the other hand issue of cargo handling, commercial risk, provision of superstructure, terminal development and terminal labour were on the account of operator,” he said.

Abdullahi said that NPA had set up an appropriate framework for monitoring and compliance by terminal operators.

Ships and Ports

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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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