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Portugal’s Port of Lisbon Grinds to a Two-Day Halt

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  • As Bangladesh professor hacked to death in suspected Islamist attack

All operations at Portugal’s port of Lisbon have been completely frozen since Wednesday as the port’s dockworkers launched a strike which could last until May 5, according to the Portuguese Dockers Union (SETC).

The strike is affecting cargo operations at all terminals in the port, SETC said.

All port workers, including the ones who have a contractual relationship with the port providing either stevedoring or other services, are involved in the industrial action.

SETC further informed that the strike could have an affect on operations in the ports of Setúbal and Figueira da Foz.

The industrial action follows a three-year dispute period over a new collective bargaining agreement between the port workers and the operators of the port of Lisbon.

The union earlier said that the inability to reach an agreement resulted in a number of strike notices being delivered to port operators since November 2015.

In the meantime, unidentified attackers hacked to death a university professor in Bangladesh on Saturday, police said, adding that the assault bore the hallmarks of previous killings by Islamist militants of secular and atheist activists.

Police said English professor Rezaul Karim Siddique, 58, was hacked from behind with machetes as he walked to the bus station from his home in the country’s northwestern city of Rajshahi, where he taught at the city’s public university.

“His neck was hacked at least three times and was 70-80 percent slit. By examining the nature of the attack, we suspect that it was carried out by extremist groups,” Rajshahi Metropolitan Police commissioner Mohammad Shamsuddin told AFP.

Shamsuddin said police had not yet named any suspects but added that the pattern of the attack fitted with previous killings by Islamist militants.

Nahidul Islam, a deputy commissioner of police, told AFP Siddique was involved in cultural programmes, including music, and set up a music school at Bagmara, a former bastion of an outlawed Islamist group, Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

“The attack is similar to the ones carried out on (atheist) bloggers in the recent past,” Islam said.

Homegrown Islamist militants have been blamed for a number of murders of secular bloggers and online activists since 2013, the most recent being in the capital Dhaka early this month.

Police said that in each of the attacks unidentified assailants hacked the victim to death with machetes or cleavers.

Eight members of banned Islamist group Ansarullah Bangla Team, including a top cleric who is said to have founded the group, were convicted late last year for the murder of atheist blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider in February 2013.

Sakhawat Hossain, a fellow English professor from the university and a friend, said the slain teacher played the Tanpura, a musical instrument popular in South Asia, and wrote poems and short stories.

“He used to lead a cultural group called Komol Gandhar and edit a bi-annual literary magazine with the same name. But he never wrote or spoke against religion in public,” Hossain told AFP.

Police said Siddique was the fourth professor from Rajshahi University to have been murdered. In February, a court handed down life sentences to two Islamist militants for the murder of another professor, Mohammad Yunus.

The recent killings have sparked outrage at home and abroad, with international rights groups demanding that the secular government protect freedom of speech in the Muslim-majority country.

Ansar al-Islam, a Bangladesh branch of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, this month claimed responsibility for the murder of 26-year-old Nazimuddin Samad, a law student who was killed on the streets of Dhaka, according to US monitoring group SITE.

Police, however, blamed the Ansarullah for the murder.

Bangladesh authorities have consistently denied that international Islamist networks such as Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State group, which recently claimed responsibility for the murders of minorities and foreigners, are active in the country.

A long-running political crisis in the majority Sunni Muslim but officially secular country has radicalised opponents of the government and analysts say Islamist extremists pose a growing danger.

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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