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SON may ruin international trade, NAGAFF cries out



…Alleges SON lays siege on released containers

The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has raised the alarm, over recent activities of the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) to destabilize international trade, noting that the SON, was laying siege and arresting containers within the roads of Lagos State.

Already, the group has forwarded a letter to this effect, to the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and copied the Presidency, the Senate President and the Customs Comptroller  General (CGC), amongst other, stressing the need for their urgent interventions, to prevent SON, from ruining the trade further.

“We have noted, based on reports and complaints from the practicing freight forwarders, that the enforcement unit of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), over time, has laid siege and thereby arresting containers within the city roads of Lagos State, Nigeria”, the National  Deputy President, Ugochukwu Nnadi, indicated, recalling that the Federal Government of Nigeria had once directed some Government agencies including SON to operate from outside the ports and only be invited by Nigeria Customs Service if they show interest in any particular import if the need arises.

The group was miffed that since the SON is online with NCS, it should know that its operatives would be duly informed if necessary.

“It is very surprising that they are arresting containers on our city roads most times late in the night with a team of Police officers rather than following the rule.  Whereas we shall continue to push for rule of law, the immediate problem has to do with security of cargo and persons because there are several cases of container theft and hijacking by unknown armed men in Lagos State”, Ugochukwu said, warning that except something was urgently done,  hoodlums may take advantage of it, with armed men, on possibly to snatch containers at late hours.

The body said it was calling on the NSC to act fast, as an economic regulator, to act fast.
“In all these, Section 23 is very specific that the Council may make rules, not inconsistent with this Act for general and efficient conduct of the functions of the Organisation.
“Whereas it is not our intention to join issues at the moment with SON enforcement unit, as a commercial regulator in our maritime trade and transportation, we want to state that their action is in breach of international trade protocol and practices with its cost implications on cargo in Nigeria.

“It beats one’s imagination how the Enforcement Unit of SON can on their own break the rule by using Police to arrest containers on city high ways of Lagos.
“It is funny and more embarrassing that this seeming illegality is only at the Western Zone of Nigeria because they are not found in North West of Jibiya Border of Katsina State and South Eastern Ports/Border locations.  Our members who have consistently been on the receiving end of this act of illegality and impunity may be forced to seek redress in court if this does not stop forthwith.

“We may be tempted to consider this illegal act as an act of sabotage against the ongoing transformation programme of Mr. President which is predicated on rule of law and development.

“We therefore request that you liaise with the Director General of SON to find out what is going on because their action equally poses security threat to road users and freight agents in particular operating in Lagos State Nigeria.  We must remark that Standards Organization of Nigeria should seek better cooperation with Nigeria Customs Service to achieve its objective of quality assurance over imported goods.  To lay siege on Nigerian international trade by arresting containers on our city high ways is very uncivilized, unprofessional and a bad conduct”, the NAGAFF Chieftain, in charge of Transport and Logistics concluded, pointing out that the law establishing SON is very clear that their duty is performed at the owners’ warehouses or factories of manufacture; being one of the major reasons the Government refused to return them to the ports like NAFDAC and NDLEA.

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…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



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…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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