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Statistics On Drowning Soars, As Regulatory Agencies Snores

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  • Naira falls to 325 on dollar shortage

Deaths by drowning may have begun to soar in Nigeria, as Government’s Treasury Single Accounts (TSA) which has significantly reduced funding for maritime regulatory bodies takes harder tolls on people.

Specifically, while helpless migrants drown in the Aegean sea, Nigerians at home have also begun to increase statistics of deaths by drowning, as at least, another eight persons perished on Wednesday, when a canoe ferrying traders capsized in Jigawa State, a Northern part of Nigeria, as confirmed yesterday, by government officials.

Two persons had earlier drowned in Lagos State, when a boat hit logs of wood and capsized in the the Badagry area of Lagos State last Saturday, February 6, 2016.

Sadly, their deaths merely came only a few days, after seven persons had similarly drowned, following a boat capsize in the Ijede, Ikorodu axis of the same Lagos state.

Eye witnesses grieved that of the 10 persons comprising of eight passengers and two crew members aboard the boat which left Ebute Iworo in Ajido in the morning enroute Daddy Luwi, only eight persons could be rescued, with varying degrees of injuries, out of which  four were wearing life jackets as at the time of the accident.

In Bauchi on Sunday, February 7, 2016, a 22-year-old student, Idris Yakubu, reportedly drowned while swimming in a river.

The command’s spokesman, DSP Haruna Mohammed, who confirmed the incident noted that the deceased was a student of Government Secondary School, Toro, Toro Local Government Area of the state.

Shedding light on the Jigawa State incident, the local government chairman, Ibrahim Mu’azu explained that panicked passengers in the boat jumped into the river, after their boat on the way to a local market in Jahun district of Jigawa state tipped over on hitting an obstacle in the water.

“So far eight dead bodies were pulled out of the river while another eight were rescued by local divers,” Mu’azu told AFP.

The official expressed a strong belief that more people were still missing, hence his insistence that the search for bodies should continue, on an expanded scale.

In the meantime, the naira hit a record low of 325 to the dollar at the parallel market on Thursday as desperate importers scrambled for dollars to meet their obligations overseas.

The local currency had closed at 318 against the greenback on Wednesday, after hitting 313.5 and 310 on Tuesday and Monday, respectively.

“The dollar is falling because importers need forex to bring in their goods. They cannot keep on folding their arms because there is scarcity; they must keep buying; the only thing is that the quantity may reduce,” a forex dealer told our correspondent under condition of anonymity.

The CBN has left the official exchange rate unchanged at N197 to the dollar on its official interbank window.

“We see the naira falling further in coming days if the central bank fails to lift the dollar restriction,” the Acting President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators, Aminu Gwadabe, said.

Tumbling global oil prices have battered Nigeria’s oil-dependent economy, with external reserves down to an 11-year low at $27.89bn on February 9, Reuters reported.

President Muhammadu Buhari is concerned that further depreciation will hurt poor Nigerians, but the CBN’s refusal to revise the pegged exchange rate has widened a chasm between official rate and the parallel market.

Last month, the central bank halted dollar sales to the BDC operators and allowed commercial banks to accept dollar deposits, in a failed effort to shore up dwindling foreign reserves.

Around 90 per cent of the nation’s foreign exchange earnings come from crude oil exports, but mismanagement of the refineries means the country must also import expensive refined fuel.

The Managing Director, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, said it was high time the CBN came up with a forex policy that would address the forex crisis confronting the nation.

In an economic note released on Thursday, Rewane said, “Nigerians are perplexed at the endless slide of their currency, which is now trading at N325/$, the lowest point ever.

“This is happening even when the oil price is up at $31pb. The debate as whether to devalue the naira is not the real issue. The discourse should be whether we need an exchange rate policy or not. The absence of a policy is a recipe for economic anarchy and a race to the bottom.”

Additional report from Punch

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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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