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NIMASA: APC THROWS ANOTHER BOMB

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… DECLARES CVFF AS BEING IN DANGER AS DG REQUESTS FOR SIX-MONTH LEAVE OF ABSENCE
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) may now have no options left than to drag the All Progressives Congress to court as it threatened, as the APC has thrown another bomb, even before the expiration of the Agency’s ultimatum lapsed, as the Campaign organization insinuates that something unwholesome might have happened to the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).
The NIMASA Director General, Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi issued a three day ultimatum on Sunday morning, and which subsequently expired this morning, threatening to drag the APC to court if theorganization does not retract allegations that it was NIMASA that was funding the hate-campaigns against its flag bearer, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
Ironically, not only did the APC Campaign Organization (APCCO) dismissed the threat of going to court by NIMASA as an “empty threat”, it has also tasked Nigerians to ask both the Federal Government and the agency to show where the CVFF, a special ‘esusu’ contributions by ship-operators, in custody of NIMASA gone to, insisting that the fund which it indicated its value as about $800 million and N50 billion could no longer be accounted for. The APCCO, according to the Sahara Reporters, a medium based in New York, gave indication to this, stressing that Nigerians should act fast on this, because the Director General may also have requested for “a six-month leave of absence from the agency”, without providing adequate reasons for the request.
“The APC Presidential Campaign Organization (APCPCO) has challenged the federal government and the Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency (NIMASA) to tell Nigerians what happened to the $800 million and N50 billion of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) which the agency was in control of until recently when the “Fund” became unaccounted for.
The APCCO Director, Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, posited that Nigerians deserve to know what happened to the money, and that the agency should make public the list containing names of beneficiaries and amounts from the “Fund” if any; noting that the “Fund” was money derived as 2% surcharge for all Contracts under the Cabotage regime which came into force in 2004 by virtue of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act (Cabotage) 2003.
The Cabotage Act, which was closely modeled after the United States of America’s Jones Act 1938, was to help develop the capacity and participation of indigenous ship owners in coastal inland trade which was largely dominated by foreigners.
“Up till today, that objective has not been achieved as seen in the depleted Indigenous Ship Owners Registry, the mass unemployed Nigerian Seafarers, and the prevalence of foreign interest in the Nigerian coastal waters”, Malam Shehu observed further, adding that instead, the Cabotage regime now only breeds corruption, ranging from request of inducement and gratification from foreign ship owners through their agents for waivers processing by NIMASA and approval of the Federal Ministry of Transport by some top staff of the agency to the disappearance of the CVFF Fund meant to be accessed by the Nigerian ship owners.
He noted that the website of the Nigerian Ship Owners Association (NISA) shows that 90 percent of its 78 registered ship owners are on the brink of extinction as they are submerged in debts without the necessary CVFF to access.
He emphasized that “time is of the essence in publishing the list”, following fears that the money may have been diverted for other purposes such as the campaign of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, and the submission of a request from the Director General of the agency to proceed on a six-months leave of absence from the agency.
Efforts made to obtain the official reaction of the agency proved futile, as the agency image-maker, Isichei Osamgbi had switched off his telephones, while text messages sent to to him were yet to be responded to.
A senior staff of the organization who spoke on condition of anonymity said he was not aware that the Director General had made a request for any leave of absence.
“Honestly, as things now stand, we may no longer have any reason to delay taking legal actions action the APC; its like they have declared war, against the agency”, he posited, hinting that management was likely to back their arrowhead, on the need to institute the legal actions immediately.

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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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