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Nigeria: Hope Rises as Petrol Vessels Berth at Lagos Port

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THERE is a glimmer of hope that the scarcity of petrol may soon end as three vessels were said to have arrived the country to discharge petrol.

Reports from across the country Monday had indicated that the current scarcity of petrol was spreading fast with consumers staying longer hours at filing stations to buy the product at higher prices.

Also Monday, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) alleged that the Federal Government has increased the lifting cost of petroleum product by N6, making it difficult for non-major marketers to lift fuel from Lagos.

However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of masterminding the sudden fuel scarcity in some parts of the country, alleging that the opposition party had infiltrated the ranks of the fuel marketers.

In a swift reaction, APC denied the allegation and described it as admission of failure by the ruling PDP.

It was gathered that the fuel-laden vessels, which berthed in Apapa jetties in Lagos yesterday belong to the Pipeline Products Marketing Company (PPMC). One of the vessels berthed at Petroleum Wharf Apapa (PWA) and discharged products for the major marketers, including MRS, Conoil, and Forte Oil, while another one which berthed at the North Oil Jetty (NOJ) discharged fuel for NIPCO and Aiteo. The third vessel was said to have berthed at Bulk Oil Plant (BOP) and discharged the products for Total and Oando.

Although, the exact quantity of the products could not be confirmed by the PPMC as at press time, it was learnt from close sources that the total volume would approximate 60 million metric tonne (MT).

Some marketers expressed hope that supply to stations will get better from today as most of the depots in Apapa received the products in the tanks for onward distribution through tankers.

The Director of Media and Publicity of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, said in a statement in Abuja that “the fuel marketers have taken a sub-contract from the opposition to frustrate supplies of petrol to fuel stations as part of a grand plan to create tension in the polity.”

He said: “We know who the fuel marketers are.  We know the relationship that exists between one of the biggest fuel marketers and a national leader of the APC.  These unconscionable opposition elements infiltrated the ranks of the fuel marketers, whom they have contracted, in a calculated attempt to frustrate the good efforts of government.

“Why have they taken this time when all hands are on deck for the March 28 elections to cause this artificial fuel scarcity? The situation is so bad that they are not importing the product. They are even threatening tank farmers not to release any fuel in their depot in order to sustain the shortage. We are aware that the tank farmers have reported the threat to the police and other security agencies.

“This shows how desperate and wicked the opposition APC can be in their quest for presidential power. Must they make Nigerians suffer simply because they want to rule?  They must desist from this act of sabotage.

“The opposition should not take delight in celebrating over the pains and sufferings of Nigerians as they have continued to do with the Boko Haram attacks on our people and nation. “ Fani-Kayode also condemned what he called efforts by the APC to play down the gallantry of Nigeria military in the war against the Boko Haram terrorist group.

“The APC’s penchant to diminish the gallantry of our armed forces in the battle to defeat insurgency in the northeast zone whilst mocking the government whenever the insurgents bomb and take over villages in the zone, must be condemned by well-meaning Nigerians.

“This predilection exposes and portrays the APC and its leaders as forces of retrogression with a devilish mindset to unleash the worst form of anarchy on the nation before, during and after the March 28 presidential election because they know their party and presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari will be dealt a crushing blow by President Goodluck Jonathan at the polls.”

He alerted Nigerians to alleged plan by the APC to destroy major electricity infrastructure in the country.

“The PDPPCO also wishes to use this medium to alert the nation on the lingering plot by the opposition elements who have been sponsoring their agents of destruction in the power sector to vandalise critical infrastructure in order to reduce the megawatts of electricity that is being generated and reverse the gains that government is making in the sector.”

The opposition APC, in a three-paragraph statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said: “It is totally unconscionable, and indeed an admission of failure, for a sitting government and ruling party to blame the opposition for their failings. These guys have simply abdicated their responsibility to the people. ‎They can as well throw in the towel and head home.

“The questions to ask are: who runs the NNPC? Who pays subsidy to fuel marketers? Who has used federal resources to bribe individuals and groups to such a level that there is no money to run the government, not to talk of paying subsidies?

“The moment a ruling party starts transferring its responsibilities to the opposition, it is clear that the market is over.”

IPMAN blamed the NNPC for the sudden hike in the cost of lifting fuel, saying it was partially responsible for the prevailing scarcity of the product. IPMAN Chairman in Kano, Alhaji Bashir Ahmed told The Guardian that marketers were constrained to commit huge resources on the current cost of the product, coupled with operational expenses, and still dispense at government-controlled price of N87.00 per litre.

Ahmed claimed that the current scarcity of fuel across major cities in the country was not due to unavailability of the product but owing to current increase in the overall cost of the product.

On why some independent marketers in Kano still dispense above the regulated pump price, he insisted: “Those selling above the N87.00 are very few and I may not blame them because no marketer will want to run at a loss”.

On allegation that some marketers are hoarding fuel due to the forthcoming general elections, the IPMAN chairman said “ No responsible marketer would procure products for billions of naira and willingly want to abandon it in stock. Let me tell you, there is no gain anybody can get in hoarding the product. I can tell you any fuel station you see selling is simply selling what it has and if they are not selling, that means they don’t have.

“The product is available, NNPC has fuel in abundance. If you go to Lagos you will see hundreds of our lorries on queue but we cannot load due to high cost and sudden increase.”

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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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