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NIMASA has made piracy, ship hijack impossible in Nigerian water- DG

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… Says pirates are  behind warships rumour

The Director General (DG) of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi on Tuesday declared that piracy or hijack of vessels within the nation’s water, has become a thing of the past.

The Director General who made the observation at a press conference while taking a bird’s eye view of his first, four-year tenure, also noted that the feat was achieved, because the Agency was able to optimally harness both the available technology and its personnel.

Akpobolokemi who assured that NIMASA would give all it takes to fight crimes in Nigeria’s Maritime Domain, emphasized that the NIMASA Satellite Surveillance Centre launched last June had been very crucial to the successes achieved by the Agency in terms of providing intelligence in the fight against piracy and other illicit crimes on the waterways. 

“It is now very difficult for anybody to attempt a hijack or piracy incidents around the Nigerian maritime domain successfully as the Agency will get the intelligence before the attack is even launched.

“I challenge anyone of you here who can mention one hijack of a ship that has occurred in the last one year between the Lagos waters and Republic of Benin. Remember Nigeria controls about 60 per cent of maritime traffic in West Africa, do you think it is by coincidence or that the criminals just repented and this was not planned?”, he asked, refuting recent reports of alleged acquisitions of warships and gun boats.

Akpobolokemi posited that the vessels in question were however,  simple decommissioned vessels procured by NIMASA through a Public Private Partnership arrangement being used by the Nigerian Navy with whom the Agency has a working agreement.

“It is the Navy that has fitted their guns on the vessels to aid their policing of the maritime domain.

“Some of you journalists have escorted us to commission the boats being called warships. They were commissioned and the Nigerian Navy mounted guns on them. The three ships recently commissioned when the President did the ground breaking ceremony for the Maritime University are the ones being called by the foreign media warships brought in from Norway. I invite you journalists to come with us and go and visit these ships called warships, which they will also claim I put all kinds of weapon in and see for yourself. They also claim we have armed men. Is the Nigerian Navy whom we partner with and who has a representative with us, a Navy Commodore, NIMASA’s Navy?” Dr. Akpobolokemi asked, noting that there had been quite “a lot of rumours going around”, which had been dished out by the various individuals and unscrupulous organisations who had found it very uncomfortable in carrying out their illegal activities.

The NIMASA Boss explained that the agency consisted of civilians who were professionals in various fields and who have no political affiliations or interests at all, beyond doing a perfect job, as an arm of government, responsible for maritime safety, security and regulations amongst others.

“We work in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy and other relevant security agencies to use their men and arms to patrol and provide safety of the country’s water ways, as mandated by the global body, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)”, he also said.

The Director General said the primary interest of NIMASA was to provide a safe maritime domain and that the Agency had achieved this through the Satellite Surveillance Centre, upgrade of the Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS) and continuous inter-Agency relations with the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Air Force and the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta.

Dr. Akpobolokemi observed that in the process of fighting crime on the water ways, a lot would be said against the Agency.

“People will call you a lot of bad names. They will accuse you of using self help and aiding militancy but ask anyone arrested or his vessel seized what he did?” he noted further, warning that his management would not ever succumb to blackmail, as they have seriously grown thick skin, in a bid to ensure perfection in fulfilling their statutory mandate..

The Director General acknowledged that the Agency would always face challenges but said the challenges were there to make them work harder and surmount them and continue to improve the maritime sector, for the good of Nigeria and the world at large.

Dr. Akpobolokemi also reiterated the commitment of the Agency to growing human capacity for the maritime sector with the Nigeria Maritime University, the Institutes of Maritime Studies in the six Nigerian universities and the over 2500 Nigerian youths undergoing maritime training in various institutions around the globe.

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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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