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Panic on Med Migrant Boat Pitched Hundreds to Their Deaths, Says IOM

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…Three Dockworkers Die in Antwerp

Hundreds of people desperate to be rescued from a packed migrant boat in the Mediterranean pushed to one side when they saw a ship approach, capsizing the craft and pitching everyone into the sea where hundreds died, an official said on Wednesday.

Survivors’ accounts suggested at least 500 people were on the boat when it sank on Monday evening, some 120 km (75 miles) off the Italian island of Lampedusa. With 145 people rescued that leaves at least 350 unaccounted for, probably drowned.

Joel Millman, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said: “According to testimonies, at least one-third of the passengers were women and children. At the time of the shipwreck, they were staying in the hull of the boat to be better protected from the cold.

“When the men on the deck became restless and started moving about because a rescue boat was beginning to approach them, the boat capsized and water flooded the hull. Women and children died immediately.”
Monday’s incident would bring the total number of dead on migrant boats in the Mediterranean since January to around 900 amid a surge in would-be immigrants to Europe after the breakdown of order in Libya created fertile conditions for human traffickers.

With fine weather encouraging more boats to leave, the Italian Coast Guard said almost 10,000 boat people had been rescued since the weekend, with 1,511 picked up in 12 separate operations on Tuesday alone.

Italy ended its “Mare Nostrum” maritime rescue mission last year following heavy pressure from anti-immigrant parties. A smaller European Union border protection operation, Triton, that replaced it has struggled to cope.

“Unfortunately Mare Nostrum was never replaced by an equivalent capacity to rescue people,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, calling for a more robust search-and-rescue mission to be set up in the Mediterranean.

The number of migrants and deaths could exceed even last year’s total when 219,000 people crossed the Mediterranean and at least 3,500 lives were lost, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

So far in 2015, around 31,500 people are known to have made crossings to Italy and Greece, the number one and number two countries of arrival but numbers usually peak in the summer months when sailing conditions are easier.

Meanwhile, three dockworkers died on Saturday in Antwerp, Belgium, after entering a ship’s hold to unload coal where they are believed to had suffocated from toxic gases.

The ship, identified by the local media as Norwegian bulk carrier Saga Frontier was anchored at a Euroports quay in Antwerp for unloading when the incident occurred.

The three workers were almost done with the unloading of cargo and had descended through a manhole into a smaller room next to the open cargo area, which, according to a labour prosecutor, was poorly ventilated.

According to the most recent Marine Traffic vessel tracking data, the Hong Kong-flagged ship, built in 2007, is still moored in Antwerp area.

Investigation into the cause of deaths of the three workers is underway.

“We can never relax on port safety and accident prevention. Antwerp is a port where health and safety is taken very seriously, and, like the three men’s trade unions, we are confident that a full investigation will take place into what happened and how any resulting lessons can be implemented,” says President and Chair of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) dockers’ section, Paddy Crumlin.

 “Dock work is dangerous work and everyone involved must always do everything possible to minimise the risks,” he added.

Reuters (additional reports from World Maritime News)

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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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ADEBAYO SARUMI: Doyen of Maritime Industry Marks 80th Anniversary, Saturday 

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