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Pirate attacks rise in Nigeria despite global decline

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  •  Fed Govt destroys 15 containers of fish in Lagos

Pirate attacks off the coast of Nigeria rose in the first half of the year, while attacks on shipping globally fell to their lowest level in 21 years, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Globally, there were 98 actual or attempted pirate attacks in the first half of 2016, according to the International Chamber of Commerce’s IMB, the lowest tally since 1995 and a marked fall on the 134 recorded in the same period last year and the peak of 266 in the first six months of 2011.

In Nigeria, pirates were said to be increasingly looking to kidnap crew members and hold them to ransom.

Nigerian pirates kidnapped 24 crew members in the first half of this year, up from just 10 in the first six months of 2015.

These incidents are “increasingly violent”, with Nigerians accounting for eight of the nine incidents worldwide in which ships were fired on in the January-June period.

The Director, IMB, Mr. Pottengal Mukundan, was quoted by Financial Times to have said that the most serious problems were now off the West Coast of Africa, where Nigerian gangs had adopted “a new trend, which is quite disturbing”.

In the past, these pirates have been content to board ships and steal their cargo, such as oil from tankers. However, this activity has reduced, with Mukundan speculating that the slide in oil prices has made such crime less attractive.

Instead, the gangs now tend to board vessels such as bulk carriers up to 120 nautical miles offshore, kidnap some of the crew and take them ashore to be held for ransom.

Despite the fact that paying a ransom is likely to encourage further kidnappings, Mukundan said they were always paid.

“It’s very difficult to imagine a shipowner who is prepared to ignore the plight of his kidnapped crew members. It will be very unlikely to happen. You can’t abandon them,” he said.

Given that Nigerian pirates had been reported as far South as Angola and as far North as Sierra Leone, Mukundan said greater international cooperation was needed to tackle the problem, with countries being more willing to share information to help secure prosecutions.

The IMB also called for agreements to allow a naval vessel in hot pursuit of suspects to be allowed to travel into the territorial waters of a neighbouring state, rather than being forced to give up the chase.

In the meantime, the Federal Department of Fisheries (FDF) has destroyed 15 containers of unwholesome frozen fish in Lagos.

The fish, destroyed at the weekend,  allegedly belonging to a company, named Food Solution Nigeria Limited.

The containers were evacuated by FDF from Sifax Off-Dock Terminal at Trinity, on Oshodi/Apapa Expressway, to prevent the unwholesome fish from getting to the market.

FDF ‘s Deputy Director  Mrs. Olabisi Adepegba  said a Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), which shipped the containers into the country, would pay for the cost of destruction.

She said of the company’s frozen fish-filled containers, 15 were laden with spoilt fish.

The evacuated containers were taken  to Lagos State Waste Management Authority’s dumpsite at Epe, where the products were destroyed, after which a destruction certificate was issued to the shipping company and a copy to FDF for record purposes.

She said the task of clearing and destroying the containers took some time because those involved were reluctant to bear the cost of evacuating and destroying the products.

Adepegba stated that the FDF had a mandate to protect the public and prevent unwholesome fish from getting to the market.

The  General Manager, Sifax Offdock, Oliver Omajuwa, said the consignment came in a batch of 43 containers, of which 15 were condemned and 28 had been taken delivery of and certified for consumption by the FDF.

Upshot with additional report from Nation

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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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