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Stakeholders warn against hasty implementation of auto policy

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Major maritime industry stakeholders yesterday asked the Federal Government not to be in haste in implementing the National Automotive Policy it introduced in 2013.

The stakeholders, who bared their minds yesterday at the ‘Town Hall Meeting on the National Automotive Policy’ organized by Ships & Ports Communication in Apapa, Lagos, advised government to ensure that auto assembly plants start rolling out locally assembled vehicles before the contentious policy is implemented.

The stakeholders also accused some auto assembly plants of hiding under the policy to import fully-built units of vehicles under the guise of semi-knocked down (SKD) units with the intention of shortchanging government of import duty.

The Comptroller General of Customs, Alhaji DIkko Abdulahi, who was represented at the event by the Assistant Comptroller General, Tariff & Trade, ACG Banke Adeyemo said Customs officers have in the past recorded instances where importers removed the tyres from fully built imported vehicles and claim they are SKDs with the intention of paying less duty to government.

“Of course we won’t allow that so we raise the proper duty and ask them to pay,” she said.

In his presentation, Director General of the National Automotive Council (NAC), Engr. Aminu Jalal said Nigeria spent about $7.5billon on importation of imported new, used and spare parts into the country in 2013 alone.

Jalal said Nigeria had a growing middle class of 40 million people with a potential vehicle market of one million units annually.

The NAC DG, who was represented by the agency’s Director of Industrial Infrastructure, Engr. Kolapo Odetoro however said the country must check its huge spending on foreign exchange used to import vehicles into the country.

“The local manufacturers of vehicles will therefore not only create wealth but generate a large number of Small and Medium Enterprises.

“It would create employment, boost our local engineering capacity through spillover effects and develop our local raw materials.

“NAC is already working with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and the Nigeria Customs Service on this issue. Measures to control vehicles smuggling through the control of vehicle registration system are being worked out,” he said.

Also speaking at the event, Chairman, Nigerian Ports Consultative Council (PCC), Otunba Kunle Folarin said, “We should ask ourselves whether the investors can sustain competiveness, slow growth economy or change in the mobility of people.”

“When there is an alternative transport mode, will it affect the demand of the policy?”

The Deputy President, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Barr Fred Akokhia said that the auto policy is a catalyst for industrialization in the country.

He however advised the government not to rush into implementing the policy.

“Government should not rush into implementing the policy rather they should check for what led to the mistakes of the past in order not to repeat it. We should do it in a way that when we come out of it, it would be a near perfect policy,” Akokhia said.

On his part, the National Publicity secretary of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Kayode Farinto described the auto policy as “dead on arrival”.

He queried why NAC has failed to use the money generated under the two percent NAC levy to develop the automobile industry.

“NAC should empower various higher institutions so that they could do research and develop new technologies.

“We must ensure that there is stable electricity because without stable electricity, we can’t get the policy right,” he said.

The Town Hall Meeting, organised by Ships & Ports Communication Company, was attended by representatives of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Shippers Council, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Consultative Council, freight forwarding associations, importers, and auto dealers.

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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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