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SACKED 3,000 WORKERS: NLC insists Imo’ll be shut down

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  • As Greek Port Strikes Get Prolonged

Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, yesterday insisted that there would be a total shut down of Imo State once the 14-day ultimatum issued to the state government to recall the 3000 sacked workers and tackle their unpaid salaries and other benefits expires.

The Imo State government is alleged to be owing workers of the state’ agencies including Imo State Water Corporation and Imo State Transport Company, between three and 15 months salaries and other benefits.

President of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Mr. Igwe Achese, a member of the 6-man action committee set up by NLC to handle the Imo crisis, told Vanguard that all measures had been put in place for the planned action.

Achese who is also a Deputy President of the Joe Ajaero-led faction of NLC, said: “Like we made it clear when we handed down the ultimatum on Friday, January 22, once the ultimatum expires, we will take action and there will be a total shut down of the state. You are aware that both factions of Congress are on the same page in the issue because an injury to one is an injury to all. It was in that regard that a meeting of leaders of the factions in Abuja, set up a 6 man action committee on Imo which I am a member.

“We have it very clear that once the action starts, we will stop fuel and electricity supplies, banks and shops will be closed among others. ”

Recall that the Ayuba Wabba faction of NLC at its National Executive Council, NEC, meeting last Friday in Lagos, warned that Imo would be used as an example to others, saying “Congress resolved that any state governor who violates the sacred duty of regular payment of salaries, gratuities and pensions will incur the wrath of workers.Congress also resolved to mobilize to any state that retrenches workers because workers should not be made the scape goats of the downturn in the economy. The benefits of political employees are not touched. They are paid regular huge sums that are not even approved by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.

“In line with the Congress’ philosophy of an injury to one is an injury to all, Congress also resolved to mobilize to Imo State to shut it down as a response to Governor Okorocha’s consistent anti-labour policies, impunity and retrenchment of workers, in spite of his promises to the leadership of the Congress that he would not take such decisions. Congress also resolved to take a national action in respect of Imo if necessary.

“Congress notes that Governor Okorocha has raised a private militia which he has armed to the teeth and they are at present inflicting injuries on innocent workers. Congress considers this as illegal and resolves to make a report to the IGP, warning that in the event that Okorocha violates the law by unleashing the militia again on workers, there would be consequences.”

In the meantime, a new 24 hour general strike has been announced in Greece on 4 February by both public and private sector unions, while the Seamen’s Union is scheduling another 48 hour strike on the same date, according to Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS).

The action is expected to affect the routes of domestic and local ferries and commercial vessels calling at Piraeus, Aspropyrgos, Eleusis, Pachi and Megara ports for cargo discharging.

The strike action by the Seamen’s Union involves a new 48 hour stoppage and is scheduled to begin at 06.00 on 4 February and end at 06.00 on 6 February. The Towage and Salvage Crew Union of Piraeus has also confirmed its participation in the strike from 06:00 on 4 February until 06:00 on 5 February, and is planning a further 4 hour stoppage on 5 February, ISS said.

During all the stoppage periods, vessels will not be able to berth, shift or sail from the affected ports.

Hellenic Crew Union and the Towage and Salvage Crew Union of Piraeus launched the strike action on 27 January, starting with a two-day protest, which has now turned into a week-long industrial action.

The action has been called by the unions in response to the Greek government’s planned changes to labour and insurance rights, pensions and retirement ages.

Vanguard with 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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