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‘Nigeria is world’s highest spender on seafarer training’

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Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, said over the weekend that no country of the world spends as much as Nigeria in training seafarers.

Akpobolokemi discloesd this in Lagos on Saturday at a reception organized for 22 cadets trained under the Nigeria Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) and who recently graduated from the Arab Maritime Academy in Alexandra, Egypt, where they majored in Marine Engineering and Nautical Science.

“Four years ago, I came to NIMASA and met a very laudable programme that has to do with training our youths in seafaring. I felt it must be sustained. It has not been easy but we have to do it.

“I stand to be corrected, if there is any nation in the world today, who is committing as much huge resources as Nigeria in the training of seafarers. To train one seaman is a huge cost. NIMASA alone is sponsoring over 2,000 youths in different universities across the world. The programme is quite expensive but we have to do it. We’ll look for the money from anywhere in order to continue this programme”, Akpobolokemi stated. He however failed to disclose the amount spent by NIMASA over the past four years in executibg the NSDP.

He said the best way to guarantee peace in the society is to create jobs for the teeming youths, pointing out that no amount of guns or weapons could guarantee peace in a society if the youths were jobless, hence the determination of his agency to sustain the seafarers’ training initiative.

He said, “The best form of security is investing in the youths. No amount of guns or weapons can guarantee peace and security in any nation if the youths are idle. Today, the evolution of China as an industrial economy has debunked the age-long held notion that saw huge population as a disadvantage instead of as an asset. China has shown that a huge population, if well managed, can be to a country’s advantage.

“If we have a huge population of youths in Nigeria, we can turn this into an advantage by creating job opportunities like the National Seafarers Development Programme of NIMASA for the benefit of the country”.

The NIMASA Director-General also assured the new graduands that his agency will do everything possible to provide the cadets jobs.

“Investing in the youth is the best assurance for a peaceful nation,” he said.

Akpobolokemi disclosed that the students had completed their four-year training including sea-time experience mandatory for international standards in seafaring.

“There were criticisms when we started and people talked about sea-time. This programme has the sea-time component because it was our resolve.”

He said that there had been a quiet revolution to ensure that many Nigerians work in the cabotage trade as a way of encouraging local content in crewing.

He thanked the governments of Ebonyi, Ekiti, Ondo and Benue States for keying into the programme and urged other states to take a cue from them.

“Although, it is expensive but we have resolved to invest in the youth to build Nigeria,” Akpobolokemi said.

Also speaking, Chairman of the National Seafarers Welfare Board, Otunba Kunle Folarin, said NSDP was poised to make the Nigeria’s maritime industry one of the best in the world.

He expressed the hope that there would always be jobs for people, who had quality training in the industry with the more than 4,500 vessels berthing at the nation’s ports annually.

“With what NIMASA has started, I believe our maritime industry will be one of the best. There will also be jobs for these youths because more than 4,500 vessels call at our ports yearly,” Folarin said.

He advised the graduating cadets to remain focused and dedicated, adding that their Certificate of Competency had international value.

“Do great work for the nation because your profession is key to the development of the economy.

“Your Certificate of Competence is equivalent to currency which is recognised internationally,”he said.

One of the cadets Raphael Faboro, while speaking on behalf of his colleagues, expressed gratitude to NIMASA for the training, and requested that they should be assisted to get jobs.

“We thank NIMASA and we promise to be good ambassadors of the nation and we are prepared to serve diligently.

“We also request for more youths to be trained on the programme and we should be assisted to get jobs,” he said.–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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