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NIMASA arrests over 244 vessels in 2 years, without a single conviction

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Truth can be so bitter that it shocks: the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) though has officially made over 244 ship arrest, the agency till date, has nonetheless secured not even a single conviction!

For more than two weeks, the Maritime First had been checking the records to find out if there had been any; and came up with none. It was not funny. It was not evil. It was criminal. So, what have you been doing with the nation’s resources, telling the whole world the country was fighting piracy?

“NIMASA has power only to detain. We have no power to arrest. We have no power to prosecute. It is the responsibility of NIMASA to hand over such vessels (and suspects) over to the police or the SSS”, the agency Executive Director, Capt. Ezekiel Bala Agaba told bewildered newsmen, prompting some of them to almost shed tears at the Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

No wonder the pirates kept coming back; or never departed in the first instance. Or was it that they simply kept re-circling themselves? Who knows: there might even have been only 20 pirates out there, and the agency had merely arrested each of them about 13 times each!

Of course, it cannot be empty ships only that the agency had been arresting. Even though, on another date, the Maritime First may still be interested in the where about of the detained, over 244 vessels the agency had purportedly arrested.

On one occasion, according to the Executive Director, one detained suspect, was re-arrested, barely one week “after being handed over, after arrest” to the appropriate authority, but he declined to indicate the exactitude of the “recipient” quarters which let the suspect loose.

But while the issue of ship arrest was going on, the Maritime First learnt that the agency, out of over zealousness, sometimes, arrested, absolutely without genuine reasons. Take for instance, the arrest of a tug, which reportedly broke down and was undergoing repairs in the middle of a channel. The tug, reportedly without any pipes, hose or tools for siphoning liquid was nonetheless arrested and its crew detained.

A ship master and owner of the said tug told the Maritime First, during the recent Shippers Council- Judges seminar in Abuja that even when the court intervened and directed that the tug be released, the agency, demonstrated its sheer impunity, by refusing to obey the court.

Interestingly, all efforts directed towards independent investigation was yet to reveal a cuckoo or graveyard where the agency was nesting some 244 vessels, prompting industry watchers to wonder, if the agency had actually been making the arrest of the 244 vessels with the proverbial lose basket!

An industry watcher who gave an opinion in confidence advised Nigerians, not to believe all they are told, stressing that after the reading the report of over 244 ships arrest, over illegal activities, he became convinced that it was either the newspapers were quoting the agency out of context, or there was a deliberate efforts in some quarters to mislead the reading public.

“How can you arrest over 244 vessels for illegal activities, and yet failed to secure even a single conviction”, he asked, wondering every vessel arrested was manned by only ghosts!

Every attempt by the Maritime First made in defense of the agency left the respondent absolutely unconvinced.

“Okay, I agree with you; so where the ships they arrested? You want me to believe they were hardworking and not misquoted; okay, where are they keeping the 244 ships. If they didn’t release our friend’s tug arrested, while undergoing repairs, why should they release the remaining over, 243 others? Or were they also doing a general arrest, but selective detention?” he asked further, laughing to scorn, the attempt to protect the agency’s image.

However, another respondent, Anthony Emordi on the strength of the confession by the agency that it had failed to secure a single conviction despite the purported arrests, has urged the President Goodluck Jonathan to review the no-cure no-pay contract the agency has entered into with the Global West Shipping group, for the provision of platform to enable the vessels arrest, if at the end of the day, the management of the agency was going to mess up the process of bringing suspected culprits to book.

“What is the sense in spending hundreds of millions of Naira on monthly basis, for the provision of platform alone, if at the end of the day, the agency couldn’t secure a single conviction, even two years after? Are we not further throwing more resources down the drain?” he asked, saying if such monies was invested in the empowerment of the half-baked graduates of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron; Nigeria would be better for it.

A member of the Nigerian Indigenous Ship-owners Association (NISA), who spoke on condition of anonymity however spoke very well of the agency, noting that while the agency might not be perfect in its vision and styles, it determination to move the country forward should nonetheless be commended.

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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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