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Piracy Doubles in 2015, 14 Incidents in Nigeria, Says IMB

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  • Syrian refugees struggle to buy food as aid dwindles

As a result of five attacks off Nigeria, kidnappings doubled from nine in 2014 to 19 in 2015, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said in its annual piracy report.

ICC IMB added that piracy and armed robbery on the world’s seas is persisting at levels close to those in 2014, despite reductions in the number of ships hijacked and crew captured.

Namely, IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) recorded 246 incidents in 2015, one more than in 2014. The number of vessels boarded rose 11% to 203, one ship was fired at, and a further 27 attacks were thwarted. Armed with guns or knives, pirates killed one seafarer and injured at least 14.

A total of 15 vessels were hijacked in 2015, down from 21 in 2014, while 271 hostages were held on their ships, compared with 442 in 2014.

No hijackings were reported in the last quarter of 2015.

IMB says one key factor in this recent global reduction was the drop in attacks against small fuel tankers around South East Asia’s coasts, the last of which occurred in August 2015.

“IMB particularly commends the robust actions taken by the Indonesian and Malaysian authorities in the arrest and prosecution of two gangs that hijacked tankers. We also applaud the subsequent arrest of some of the alleged masterminds,” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB.

However, strict anti-piracy and robbery watches should be maintained as South East Asia still accounts for most of the world’s incidents.

Almost 55% of the region’s attacks were against vessels underway compared to 37% in 2014. Most were aimed at low-level theft. IMB cites this rise on moving vessels as a cause for concern as it increases potential risks to the vessels and their crew.

IMB PRC said that reports have reduced in the majority of the 11 designated anchorages with only Belawan and Nipah recording marked increases in attempted thefts, reporting 15 and 26 incidents respectively in 2015.
Nigeria.

Though many attacks are believed to go unrecorded in Nigeria, the hotspot for violent piracy and armed robbery, IMB received reports of 14 incidents, with nine vessels boarded.

In the first of these, ten pirates armed with AK47 rifles boarded and hijacked a tanker and took all nine crewmembers hostage. They then transferred the fuel oil cargo into another vessel, which was taken away by two of the attackers.
The Ghanaian navy dispatched a naval vessel to investigate as the tanker moved into its waters, then arrested the pirates on board.

There were no Somali-based attacks reported in 2015. Following a new 55% reduction in the industry-defined High Risk Area, IMB warned vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean to stay particularly vigilant.

“Somalia remains a fragile state, and the potential for an attack remains high. It will only take one successful hijacking to undo all that has been done, and rekindle this criminal activity,” Mukundan said.

Incidents in Vietnam surged from seven in 2014 to 27 in 2015. The main cause is low-level theft against vessels anchored in Vietnam, with 15 reports from around the port of Vung Tau alone.

In China four incidents were recorded in December 2015, the first in a long time. These include three thefts of bunker diesel oil from large bulk carriers off Tianjin, and one failed attempt to do the same.

Meanwhile, low-level incidents in Bangladesh dropped to 11 in 2015, from 21 in 2014.

In the meantime, Perwin Shamsaddeen Ali, a Syrian refugee living in a tent camp in northern Iraq, has been reduced to cooking one meal a day for her family of four.

“I cook at 11 o’clock and we eat the leftovers in the evening. Why? Because we have no more food, that’s why,” the 28-year-old mother of two said as her sons tossed a balloon outside their tent. “Today I gave the kids some noodles, that’s all. That’s all we had today.”

As aid agencies struggle to keep pace with the worst refugee crisis since World War II they have been forced to cut back on assistance, including food rations. With no end in sight to the Syrian war, and regional host countries increasingly overwhelmed, many refugees see the perilous crossing to Europe as their only option.

Donors will be asked to provide nearly $9 billion to aid agencies and host countries in 2016 at an annual conference held Thursday in London — a record request. But donors have come up short in previous years.

A funding shortfall last year forced the World Food Program, the U.N. agency responsible for feeding the refugees, to cut back. Some refugees no longer receive any food aid, while others get half what they did before. Monthly cash assistance has been reduced to $10 per person.

Ali’s husband has been jobless for months. The local economy in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq has been hard-hit by the war against the Islamic State group and the plunge in global oil prices.

“We are selling our stuff, our household items, to get along. Most of the time we sell the kerosene,” she said, referring to the fuel they receive from aid groups to heat their tent and cook.

Some refugees say the voucher system the WFP uses to hand out aid is exacerbating the problem, since it can only be used in the camp’s supermarket, where goods are more expensive than outside.

“A kilogram (2 pounds) of sugar costs 750 Iraqi dinars ($0.60) outside the camp. Here, it’s 1,500. The same with rice. A chicken costs 3,500 dinars outside, while here it’s 5,000,” said Khaled Fattah, 42, also from Syria, who lives in the camp with his wife and five children.

Fattah, who is also unemployed, said he received $70 in cash aid this month but it only lasted 10 days. His wife was trying to supplement their diet by growing collard greens next to their tent, while he was selling half of their kerosene outside the camp.

The WFP says its Iraq operation was 61-percent underfunded last year. In 2015, it gave food assistance to 1.8 million displaced Iraqis across the country, plus 60,000 refugees from neighboring Syria.

“Throughout the region there has been a major impact of the shortage of funds,” said Abeer Etefa, the WFP’s regional communications officer. She said some items in the camp cost more because they had to be transported to remote locations, but that the WFP plans to negotiate better deals with suppliers this year to lower the costs.

The food shortages have convinced some inside the camp that they would be better off heading to Europe, despite the well-known dangers of crossing the choppy seas in smuggler boats.

“It is better for people to drown in the sea than to live here,” said Ali’s neighbor, 20-year-old Newroz Ahmat. “At least half of the people will make it.”

World Maritime News with additional report from MSN

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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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