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PIRACY COST ON NIGERIA, INTIMIDATING- IGBOKWE TELLS GOVERNMENT

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… Says Nigeria led the sub-regional piracy table in 2014

A highly revered maritime lawyer, Mike Igbokwe has tasked the Federal Government to adopt every measure possible, towards curbing piracy in the nation’s maritime domain, stressing that the cost implications on the economy cannot be fully quantified.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) made the observation in a paper on piracy he delivered on Wednesday, while speaking on the theme “Maritime Piracy and Security in Nigeria- and Evaluation” at Colonades Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, noting that while the menace globally cost between US $13 to US $16 billion, the cost implication on Nigeria was better imagined.

“It is estimated that Piracy costs world trade an estimated 13 to 16 billion United States dollars annually, which could increase in the coming years. In evaluating maritime piracy and security in Nigeria, it is submitted that such exercise would not be complete without also evaluating maritime piracy and security in the Gulf of Guinea which also adjoins it”, he indicated, expressing great grief that Nigerian area was also gradually becoming synonymous with violence.

“The Gulf of Guinea is an important maritime route for international shipping from Europe to America to West, Central and Southern Africa. The importance of the region in the global energy supply is underscored by the fact of its proximity to Europe and North America for the transportation of crude oil and gas from the region. It has been aptly observed that energy trade and security largely depends on maritime transport and the Gulf of Guinea is estimated to currently be the source of around 5.4 million barrels of oil per day with the capacity for increased production annually with recent oil and gas discoveries and developments in the region.

“Regrettably, in recent times the region has become synonymous with violence, hijackings, kidnappings and deaths as a result of piratical incidences in the region. The region is the second most dangerous area in the world for maritime transport as it accounted for nearly 30 per cent of attacks in African waters between 2003 and 2011”, he stated, adding that with the growing trend had also come into effect, new piratical dimensions, shifting from “attacks directed at cargo, attacks carried out for logistic purpose (example, to steal food, fuel and other resources” to those linked to kidnap and capture of ships, particularly oil tankers; siphoning and reselling their cargo and finally, to hijacking of ships and holding hostages to obtain ransom.

He also expressed the concern that while attacks within the Somalian waters had significantly reduced, those of the Gulf of Guinea, where Nigeria is situated were still on the rise, aside from also being more violently executed.

The Senior Advocate was also not too happy that while the region accounted for 153 attacks or attempted piracy attacks, Nigeria came up as the regional table leader, in 2014; beating Cote d’ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon and Guinea, which also, have become the ‘hot spots’ for piratical attacks.

“However, recent statistics have shown that the spate of attacks have declined in recent years, though there is no such abatement/decline in the violent nature of such attacks. The statistics show that from 1 January 2010 to December 2014, there were 153 piratical incidences (actual and attempted) with Nigeria recording the highest number of incidences in the region. Pertinently, the statistics have shown that Nigeria, Cote d’ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon and Guinea have become the ‘hot spots’.

“The decline in the spate of piratical incidences in the region could be attributed to the fact that the countries in the region have taken concrete steps to curb and/or eradicate the incidence of piratical activities in their territories.

“At national level, these countries are making efforts to resolve the political and economic causes of criminality including reducing poverty and entrenching good governance practices. In addition, there has also been increased military focus on the incidence of piracy in the region with the establishment of Special Forces, in collaboration with foreign partners, to deal with criminal activities in the waters of the region”, he indicated further.

He stressed the need for enhanced poverty reduction policies and measures, particularly a heightened war against corruption, adding that the present “mechanisms” in place “have met with limited success”, aside from being too costly to sustain.

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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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