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Senate’s purchase of 108 exotic cars insensitive, criminal –NLC

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  • Deadly ‘suicide bomb’ hits Kabul as Afghanistan violence intensifies

The Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) yesterday came down hard on members of the Senate over the purchase of 108 Toyota Land Cruiser (Sports Utility Vehicle), describing their action as not only reprehensible, but also criminal.

In a statement by the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, the union called on the Senate to return the cars or face the full wrath of the Nigerian workers. He said while it was morally despicable and shameful to order for such exotic cars after the upper legislative chamber had openly admitted that its standing committees could not perform their statutory functions due to paucity of funds, inflating the prices amounted to a criminal act.

“We at the Nigeria Labour Congress equally consider it a willful and grievous criminal act, the inflation of the unit cost of each of the cars by over a 100 per cent, as each car supposedly cost N35.1 million instead of N17 million. “Aside from this, Nigerians are keen to know from where they got money for the purchase of these cars without appropriation,” he said.

Wabba described as laughable the defence offered by the Senate spokesperson, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, to the effect that special advisers use SUVs.

The NLC President further noted that it was an act of insensitivity for the members of the Senate to embark on such extravagant spending at a time the nation was experiencing severe economic challenges and deepening poverty. “Their multiple acts of criminality, ranging from acquiring these cars after previously taking loans for the same purpose; spending money without appropriation and over-inflating costs constitute not just corruption but a crime against the Nigerian people whom they claim to represent.

“Accordingly, we demand they return those cars to whoever supplied them or the appropriate agencies prosecute them for corruption. In the event none of this happens, they should be prepared to keep a date with Nigerian workers and their civil society allies including market women and students. “No one is above the law,” he said.

In the meantime, several people have been killed and more than 200 have been injured in a huge explosion in the centre of the Afghan capital Kabul, officials say.

Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said a suicide attacker had detonated a vehicle. Gunfire can still be heard.

A Taliban spokesman said the group carried out the attack.

It comes a week after it said it was launching its “spring offensive”, warning of “large-scale attacks”.

Tuesday’s bombing happened during the morning rush hour in a residential neighbourhood close to the ministry of defence and military compounds.

There are unverified claims that Taliban fighters managed to breach the defences of the National Directorate of Security, the main spy agency which protects high-ranking government officials.

The “blast was carried out by a suicide bomber in a car and possibly one or two bombers are still resisting”, Mr Sediqqi was quoted as saying.

“The scene of the attack has been completely cordoned off by Afghan security forces.”

The presidential palace – only a few hundred metres from the blast – condemned the attack “in the strongest possible terms”.

“Such cowardly terrorist attacks will not weaken the will and determination of Afghan security forces to fight against terrorism.”

A tweet from President Ghani’s office’s official account suggested the attack “clearly shows the enemy’s defeat in face-to-face battle with ANSDF” – the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces.

The Taliban has over the past year enjoyed a resurgence, buoyed by the withdrawal of most Nato and US forces at the end of 2014, and a flood of foreign fighters joining their ranks.

It now controls sizeable parts of Afghanistan.

National Mirror with additional report from BBC

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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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