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River Niger Drying Up —FG

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  • As Taiwan and China Brace for the ‘Strongest Storm On Earth,’ Super Typhoon Meranti

The Acting Auditor General of the Federation, Mrs Florence Anyanwu, has said River Niger is drying up as  a result of a whole lot of uncontrolled activities going on in terms of the use of water.

However, realising the importance of the River Niger to the generation of electricity, water transportation, agriculture and other socioeconomic activities, the Federal Government is rallying other members of the Niger Basin Development Authority (NBDA) to forestall the drying up of the river.

Already, Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF) as the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) for Nigeria is leading a Cooperative Environmental Audit Project on River Niger that will particularly include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’ Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.

Mrs Anyanwu, who spoke at the opening of the sixth African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions Working Group on Environmental Auditing (AFROSAI-WGEA), which opened in Abuja, on Tuesday, said “right now, if you have been towards the Onitsha area of the Niger River, you will realise that the river is drying up gradually. In some countries, it has actually dried up. And that is about the longest river and Nigeria represents the largest coastal area of the river.

“The river represents a lot of economic activities, a whole lot of prospective provision of electricity, there is a lot of navigation activities so it is very relevant and important. Even in terms of agriculture. So we looked at it and said we don’t want to stay back, wait and watch what happened to Lake Chad also happen to River Niger.

“The earlier we can address it as a SAI, the better, so that we can make recommendations to member countries to address it in their policy formulation and implementation.”

According to her, AFROSAI-WGEA had already adopted the policy and agreed to start that audit, saying that it was just the official commencement “that we need the official approval for, which we are hoping we will get at the end of this meeting.”

AFROSAI-WGEA, which is the African regional branch of International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions has similarly submitted an audit report on Lake Chad to the Lake Chad Basin Development Authority and its member countries on activities around the drying lake and what to do to arrest its depletion.

Anyanwu said the main reasons for the study was to find out how the water resources in Lake Chad was being used.

“We also realised that a whole lot of governments around Lake Chad were not implementing some of the bilateral agreements that they had on the basin.

“That was some of the reasons why the AFROSAI-WGEA considered that the drying up of Lake Chad is something of great importance to the member countries.

“And we felt that doing that audit would also bring about a lot of recommendations that will also help governments’ policy formulation in terms of addressing the issues around Lake Chad.”

In her opening address, Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed noted that “our environment is our sustenance and unless we care for our environment, our own lives will be in danger. Unless we have a clear knowledge of what is happening to our environment, we may not be able to make appropriate policies for sustainable environmental management.”

In the meantime, Super typhoon Meranti will sweep across the island of Taiwan Wednesday morning, before making landfall on China with torrential rains and dangerous winds.

The storm is the strongest since Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines in 2013, and it is the biggest to near Taiwan since 1959, CNN reports.

Meranti rose quickly from being a Category 1 storm to the highest level of Category 5 in a period of 24 hours early this week, with winds reaching up to 230 mph.

The monster storm is the strongest anywhere in the world this year, and is among the “deepest tropical cyclones ever recorded anywhere on earth,” according to the forecast site Weather Underground.

As of Wednesday morning in Asia the superstorm was nearing the southern tip of the small island of 23.5 million.

The eye of the storm is expected to brush past Taiwan’s southern waters, while rain and winds over 74 mph will likely hit most of the island’s southern land area.

CNN updates show current winds at 189 mph with gusts at 190 mph as the storm closes in on the island and heads northwest toward the coast of China.

Tribune with additional report from CNN

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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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