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Productivity To Soar, As Edike Disguises Into Ports

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  • Maersk’s Profit Hit by Lower Freight Rates and Oil Price

Efficiency and productivity is expected to surge in the ports again, as Arrowhead of Customs Service in Lagos and it’s environs, Eporwei Charles Edike begins to visit the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports, disguised as a common agent, to directly obtain on the spot assessment of operational challenges, involved in cargo clearing.

Dressed in ordinary jeans trousers and ‘T’ shirt, with a nondescript face cap, the Assistant Comptroller General and Zonal Coordinator had walked in to the Lagos Port unannounced, without aides or escorts; moving from one strategic point to another, until he was forced to break the disguise, at the APM Terminals, to compel service providers to render desired services to deserving, crowd of Customs brokers and freight Forwarders.

“Waow! It is unbelievable. Honestly, this is the kind of Customs Officer that can engender the kind of positive change that Buhari is craving for!”, exclaimed an agent when it was finally discovered that the man who had mingled freely with the agents was the Zonal Coordinator for Lagos, Ogun, Oyo/Osun States and beyond.

Edike however said he embarked on the expedition, so as to mingle with agents and customs officers inside customs offices in order to ascertain the level of efficiency and quality of service rendered by Customs officers to port users.

“We need to ascertain if the reports that Customs officers come late to work were true”, the ACG stated, highlighting why he came in the morning walking around unrecognized by agents who had also arrived waiting to be attended to.

He however broke his disguise on seeing huge crowd of agents begging at Apapa to be attended to, revealing his identity in order to address the situation.

“Time is money. Every second counts, by delaying these people cost of doing business is increased. It also makes our ports unattractive to customers.

“We must eliminate delays to reduce time and costs if our ports are to be competitive and attractive to port users within the West African Sub Region”, the ACG stated further, while charging them “to sit up and live up to national expectations”.

Having blown his disguise in Apapa Port, though concluding his assessment, Edike moved to the Tin Can port, where he again, also met groups of agents, interacted freely with them, making enquiries on their challenges, before entering Customs offices to continue his undercover inspection of officers and men of the Service.

Only then after, did the ACG decided to meet with the Customs Area Comptrollers (CACs)) of the two commands to find lasting solutions to the identified gaps.

He tasked the Area Controllers to be on their toes and ensure that ports users enjoy efficient services delivery, stressing the need to ensure that not a kobo accruing to government as revenue is lost under any guise.

To the officers he charged: “These are very trying times for everybody; government needs funds to carry out developmental projects and to meet its obligations locally and internationally. The Nigeria Customs has a mandate to collect revenue on all imported cargoes. We must work hard to ensure that there are no leakages and every kobo must be collected as revenue”,  he emphasized, telling them the details of his findings, before heading to his Zonal Headquarters;

Edike also warned his officers and men to remain dedicated to duty, professional in service and to shun all acts capable of compromising their judgments/duties, even as he stressed the need for discipline and effective supervision.

In the meantime, Danish shipping and offshore energy conglomerate Maersk Group delivered a profit of USD 118 million in the second quarter of 2016, compared to USD 1.1 billion seen in the same period a year earlier, negatively influenced by the average container freight rates and oil price.

Maersk’s underlying profit was at USD 134 million for the quarter, down from USD 1.1 billion reported in the same period last year.

The company added that the underlying profit was “significantly lower” for all businesses except Damco.

The group’s revenue decreased by USD 1.7 billion or 16 percent compared to the second quarter of 2015, predominantly due to 24 percent lower average container freight rates and 26 percent lower oil price. This was partly offset by 6.9 percent higher container volumes and 8.2 percent higher oil entitlement production.

“The result is unsatisfactory. Cost reductions and operational optimizations, however, made a significant contribution to mitigating the impact of the negative market conditions,” Maersk Group CEO Søren Skou said.

He added that the group’s expectation for 2016 of an underlying result “significantly below last year is unchanged.”

Due to its low growth and returns the group’s Board of Directors has during the second quarter initiated a process to develop and consider the strategic and structural options for Maersk to further increase agility and synergies.

“Until the ongoing strategic review is finalised, the group strategy remains unchanged as previously communicated with a strategic direction of targeting profitable growth through business optimisation and value-enhancing acquisitions, cost efficiency programmes and a strong customer focus to maintain top-quartile performance in all business units,” Maersk said.

Due to challenging market conditions, the group’s subsidiary Maersk Line reported a loss of USD 151 million for the period, compared to a profit of USD 507 million seen in the same quarter of 2015.

Revenue of USD 5.1 billion was 19 percent lower than in the second quarter of 2015, driven by the decline in average freight rates to 1,716 USD/FFE from 2,261 USD/FFE, partially offset by a 6.9 percent increase in volumes to 2,655k FFE.

The company said that the freight rate decline was mainly attributable to lower bunker prices and weak market conditions, as container freight rates declined across all trades. North America and West Central Asia declined the most but African, Oceanic and European trades were also notably lower, the company added. The decline in North American average rates reflect increased competition, but is also impacted by increased backhaul volumes at lower rates in the second quarter of 2016. West Central Asian, Oceanic and European trades were impacted by market imbalance whereas African trades were mainly impacted by weak demand.

Recognised freight revenue dropped to USD 4.5 billion in the period from USD 5.6 billion reported in the same quarter in 2015.

The group’s APM Terminals also experienced a decrease in its profit from USD 161 million to USD 112 million. APM Terminals’ profits remain under pressure, as terminals in oil dependent markets face declining volumes and commercially challenged terminals in Latin America, North-West Europe and Egypt have not regained business to compensate earlier lost services, the company said.

APM Terminals’ operating businesses generated a profit of USD 123 million, compared to USD 169 million seen in the same period a year earlier.

Additional report 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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