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Terminal operators confront NSC boss over derogatory comments



The Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) has urged the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello to be mindful of his reckless comments against terminal operators at the nation’s seaports.

In a statement issued over the weekend, STOAN said Bello was deliberately or unwittingly scaring away investors and port users from patronizing Nigerian ports through unsubstantiated assertions on port charges.

The Association said Bello’s comments, which are published in the media and read worldwide, portray Nigerian ports in negative light to the international shipping community.

“He has been deliberately making false and derogatory statements against terminal operators to the media with the aim of damaging our reputation. He has also been creating division and tension in the maritime industry as he has consistently tried to incite one group against the other thereby risking possible labour unrest and disruption of services in the sector.

“When someone in his position makes such utterances, the international shipping community reacts and vessels which plan to come to Nigeria will either come at a premium or go elsewhere. These comments also scare away the much-needed foreign direct investment in the maritime sector.

“Such comments are not only baseless and unpatriotic but unbecoming of a senior public official,” STOAN said in the statement.

“Our modest achievements and system-oriented operations within a relatively short time have been identified to be unfavourable to those who would have preferred a business-as-usual disorderly environment.

“Without a doubt, terminal operators have added much value to our ports and to the Nigerian economy in recent times,” the association added.

STOAN observed that Bello’s comments are designed to seek relevance and justify the illegal actions taken by the NSC, which the association is challenging in Court.

“The various attacks and unfounded allegations being peddled around about excessive charges and rent seeking behaviour by operators is a figment of the imagination of NSC and a calculated attempt by Mr. Hassan Bello to discredit private operators who are committed under their Concession Agreements to the positive repositioning of Nigerian ports and adopting international best practices and internationally competitive rates/charges.

“Mr. Bello has designed his propaganda in such a way as to undermine the achievements of terminal operators at the port and justify NSC’s purported appointment as regulator, which we are challenging in Court as being ultra vires its powers and lacking in statutory enablement,” the association said.

STOAN said that notwithstanding the tough operating environment under which they operate, its members have invested over USD1billion in the acquisition of modern cargo handling equipment, facility upgrade, information and communication technology and manpower training and development over the past nine years.

“No fewer than 1,204 modern cargo handling equipment have been acquired by private terminal operators across the various terminals at the nation’s six major seaports since 2006.

“The seaports include Lagos Port Complex and Tin Can Island Port both in Lagos; Delta Port, Warri; Calabar Port, Calabar; Rivers Port and Onne Port both in Rivers State.”

“Contrary to Mr. Bello’s false assertions, everyone including the Minister of Transport, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Bureau Of Public Enterprises, importers, freight forwarders, other very senior government officials and stakeholders acknowledge that we have tremendously boosted efficiency at the port as shown in the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) recorded by NPA.

“It is therefore regrettable that Mr. Hassan Bello chooses to turn a blind eye to the truth and reality in order to be seen to be “working” as the purported commercial regulator of the industry.

“Suffice it to re-iterate in conclusion that his actions are contrary to the clear terms of the Concession Agreements between the terminal operators and the Federal Government of Nigeria to which the NSC is not a party,” STOAN added.


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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