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Nigeria To Enforce Ballast Water To Protect Marine Environment – Dakuku

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  • As Marketers insist Petrol should sell for N151.87/litre

Nigeria is set to adopt a more holistic action in the protection of its marine environment, following the revelation that growing threats from water hyacinth in the country is as a result of fertilizer wastes being pumped into the sea by a fertilizer industry in Lome.

Specifically, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), according to its Director General, Dakuku Peterside has vowed to forcefully implement the Ballast Water Management Convention 2004, an international instrument which protects a country’s marine environment, from alien invasive species that can be conveyed into Nigeria’s territorial waters through ballast water from ships.

Speaking during the meeting of members of the National Task Force for the Implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention 2004 in Lagos, Dr. Peterside restated the Agency’s commitment towards ensuring that the nation’s environmental sustainability remains on the front burner, even as shipping activities continue, unhindered.

He called on stakeholders to be mindful of activities that could lead to marine environmental deterioration, warning that vessels carrying ballast water for stability should be closely monitored, because the water and sediments therein could become a platform for the conveyance of alien invasive species into our environment

“The long years of exploitation and exploration of available resources in our marine environment has made it fragile; but we have a responsibility of ensuring that the environment remains sustainable for the generations yet unborn”, indicated Dakuku, noting that it is for this reason that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) makes it mandatory for the Agency to tackle this menace in line with IMO regulations.

“Ballast water and the sediments therein have become a platform for conveyance of invasive aquatic species into our environment which could be dangerous in the long run hence the need to tackle the scourge head on before it becomes uncontrollable. NIMASA is therefore committed to ensuring that the Ballast Water Management Convention 2004 is implemented in Nigeria”, he observed further, charging the members of the Task Force to develop a policy and workplan for the implementation of the Ballast Water Management Roadmap for Ballast Water Movement in Nigeria which would ultimately protect the environment from alien invasive species.

Earlier in his address, Professor Babajide Alo, Chairman of the National Task Force and former Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, observed that the issues of invasive species had become worrisome stating that studies have shown that water hyacinth invasion in Nigeria for instance, was as a result of a fertilizer industry in Lome which normally pumps its waste into the sea.

He therefore advised that Nigeria has to take a holistic approach to the issue by considering the entire Gulf of Guinea while seeking solutions to tackle the menace.

It would be recalled that Nigeria was one of the first eight countries that adopted the Ballast Water Management Convention 2004 and it is the 14th leading country in the GEF-UNDO-IMO Globallast partnership, a group set up by the IMO to give technical support to other member states on the implementation of the convention.

In the meantime, though attempts have been made to assure Nigerians that there are no plans to increase the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly referred to as petrol, The PUNCH has gathered that the actual price at which the product should sell at filling stations is N151.87 per litre.

This “realistic” price is more than the maximum N145 per litre fixed by the Federal Government on May 11, 2016 when it liberalised the downstream oil sector, marketers with knowledge of the market and the pricing mechanism told one of our correspondents on Tuesday.

This, they said, was basically due to the continued scarcity of the United States dollar, adding that the true price of petrol was N151.87 litre, judging by the current ex-depot price of the commodity.

In Tuesday’s exclusive report by The PUNCH on a looming hike in petrol price, dealers explained that the ex-depot price of the product was N133.28 per litre and that the marketers were doing their best to manage the situation.

They stressed that the dollar hit an all-time high last week, as it exchanged for N400 at the parallel market, and called for urgent steps to address the situation in order to sell the PMS at the approved rates.

In a move to avert a price increase, it was learnt that the government conveyed a meeting of stakeholders in the downstream oil sector on Tuesday, which was held at the headquarters of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency in Abuja.

One of our correspondents gathered that participants at the meeting included officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the PPPRA, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, Nigeria Association of Road Transport Owners, as well as other concerned persons.

Explaining that the actual cost of the PMS had increased beyond the N145 per litre fixed rate, an oil dealer who attended the meeting stated that when the distribution margin for petrol was added to the ex-depot price, the real cost of the commodity was N151.87 per litre.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, said, “Since the ex-depot price is around N133.5 per litre and the selling price is N145 litre, when you remove the ex-depot cost from the selling price, you’ll get about N12. Now, from this N12, consider the distribution margin and other costs from the depot; if all these costs are less than N12, then the marketers are making profits and there will be no complaint.

“But if the reverse is the case, then they have a complaint. I want you to find out what is the marketers’ margin, transporters’ margin, bridging fund, Petroleum Equalisation Fund, administrative charges and more. When you add all these together, you will realise that truly, the marketers are doing all they can to hold the pump price at the N145 per litre band.”

Investigations by our correspondents from the PPPRA showed that when the various costs highlighted by the oil dealer were added together, the result was a margin of N18.71. By adding this to the N133.5 ex-depot price, the final figure is N151.87.

For specifics on the distribution margin for every litre of petrol consumed across the country, retailers charge N6; transporters’ allowance is N3.36; bridging fund, N6.2; dealers’ charge, N2.36; marine transport average, N0.15; and admin charge, N0.3; making a total of N18.71.

When asked to state how the marketers had been coping and who is paying the extra considering the fact that some stations were even dispensing petrol at rates lower than N145 per litre, another dealer said, “We met with the government and we made it clear to them that the situation is precarious. The competition has made many of us do things that may be considered unusual in some sense, all in a bid to stay afloat.

“But for how long can this be sustained? The competition has made the marketers to come up with ingenious ways to source forex, which is why some stations still sell below the N145 per litre price in order to attract customers and make turnover in bulk. But the truth is that this is unhealthy and cannot be sustained.”

On the meeting between government officials and the marketers, a senior official of the Petroleum Resources ministry stated that the government might either subsidise the product again or consider some form of concession to the marketers with respect to the cost of the dollar.

The official said, “The issue of forex has been a challenge to both the government and the oil marketers. All of a sudden, the dollar skyrocketed to about N400 and the product we are concerned with here is an international product. So, if they are bringing in the product by buying dollar at N350, then it is obvious that they are really working hard to remain in business.

“For if we are in a truly deregulated market environment, then the price of the product should have increased beyond N145 per litre; there is no doubt about that. Meanwhile, there was a highly confidential meeting between the management of the PPPRA and stakeholders in the sector on this matter.

“I may not be able to tell you the resolutions that were reached concerning the issue of pricing of petroleum products, but the body language of those who participated in the meeting suggests that the government may be considering some form of concessions to the oil marketers as it did for the Muslim pilgrims. We all know that the government cannot afford to increase petrol price again, not at this time.”

The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Maikanti Baru, told journalists in Abuja on Tuesday that he had not received any directive to increase petrol price.

He explained that the corporation had enough stock and that all was being done to meet the forex needs of the marketers.

However, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria have described the news of a looming increase in the pump price of petrol as unwelcome and worrisome.

The Chairman, NUPENG, Lagos Zone, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, said, “It is a bad idea to say petrol price will increase again. Nigerians will not welcome any further increase. Truly, we saw the foreign exchange crumbling on daily basis, but it shouldn’t be an excuse.”

He said if the government could subsidise forex for pilgrims, it should also be prepared to subsidise whatever increase that would come from any crisis the marketers might be having concerning the fuel price.

Korodo said, “Government should not take us for a ride because nobody is going to take it the way the marketers are thinking.

“Marketers are telling us what the government is planning to do, because on their own, they cannot just increase the price. They are only playing the script of the government and we are not going to succumb to such blackmail.”

The Chairman, TUC, Rivers State Chapter, Mr. Chika Onuegbu, said the government had made it clear that the price of petrol would not be more than N145 per litre.

He said, “And even at that point when the government made the agreement, we knew that it was making excess profits and it admitted to that fact. So, the government should be able to cushion the impact of the forex challenge marketers are facing.

“I think the government had an understanding with the marketers regarding the exchange rate that they will apply for importing their products.”

Onuegbu said it would be unfair to Nigerians for the price to be increased, adding, “We were told that at N145, things would be easy for the marketers.

“When they (marketers) were making super profits, they didn’t tell anybody. That was why as soon the price was increased, there was fuel in every filling station. The problem now is that they are not making as much profit as they used to make; therefore, they must punish Nigerians.”

Additional report from Punch

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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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