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Transportation Minister, Not Being Properly Briefed- Shittu‏

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The National President,  Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs AGENTS (ANLCA),  Prince Olayiwola Shittu is mincing no word as he declared that ANLCA would not merge with other freight forwarding bodies in the Maritime industry, because the turkey and the chicken,  though both are birds,  they are never of the same family. But beyond this,  he also believes that the Transportation Minister,  Rotimi Amaechi is not being properly briefed! 

 Excerpt please :-

 

QUESTION : How would you assess the pronouncements in respect of support for made in Nigeria goods? 

 

SHITTU :Now, has government’s pronouncements and policies, especially in the areas of promotion of made in Nigerian goods, been reflected in the life of the top Government functionaries: in the clothes they wear; in the shoes they wear; in their mode of convoy, I think they need to be our good examples.

I would love to see the whole government of Nigeria becoming the largest consumer of our resources. I would want to see them revert back in all ways , to made-in-Nigeria- including using  made in Nigerian cars . They should jettison their Land Cruissers, and sell it off to anyone who wants to buy them; and convert the money to Government. Overnight, people would have confidence in made-in- Nigeria products. But so much so far, this has not been the case!

 

QUESTION:         A few minutes ago , you mentioned that the  Minister wants to merge all journalists in the Maritime Industry to merge into one body. Journalists are aware, that the Minister wants to also merge all freight forwarding and customs brokers into one . Is he trying to muscle up your association…?

SHITTU:

I wouldn’t call it that way. He is a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Journalism is under the Ministry of Information. If the Minister of transportation is directing that all newspapers publication should come under one heading, I would know it is a policy of the Federal Government. All Engineering associations under COREN. All Lawyers should come under NBA, and then collapse units like Maritime lawyers, Financial Lawyers etc., then, we will understand that this is a deliberate policy of the Government.

Of course, we should also expect all political parties to come under one umbrella, and then , eventually, all the states of Nigeria, should come under one State! We will know it is a deliberate policy.

Shittu

Shittu

But if it’s not a Government’s  central policy, then one should begin to wonder, what is the Minister afraid of? There can be 100 associations of journalists in the industry and in so far as they perform excellently well, why should anyone of them criticize you?

If the Minister is afraid of some part ever writing against him, while another group praises him, then it means, he has not done his homework in full.   Besides, if no one writes against him, how would he know the other side’s of the story; so as to further improve? How would he know of his mistakes , and avoid them, like the one he is trying to do now!

 

QUESTION: But is your association the great ANLCA likely to accept this Ministerial directive and merge?

 

SHITTU:      It is not possible.

We also know that though the turkey and chicken are both birds, God has not made turkey, chicken! The ‘picken’ of chicken and turkey may look alike; but they are not same.

The ANLCA, like the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) are governed by inherited constitutions.

Anyone who does not like it can pull out and form his own –even if your own turns out to be two man or three man body, you are free to operate. It is your constitutional right. Whether or not your association would succeed would depend on your ability to offer better services on goals pursuit, than every other similar Association.

But if Government agencies decided to use some minor associations to ease off genuinely and entrenched associations, that is where problems would be created.

The ANLCA is an institution. ANLCA is an association of corporate bodies, licensed by the Nigeria Customs, under international best practices. We pursue and maintain international best practices.

There is nowhere in the world where things are imported from outside, and you don’t have customs. The Customs don’t clear the goods by themselves. They must have Customs brokers to do the job, on behalf of the importing community. And that is what we are doing.

Freight forwarding is an early day nomenclature of a part of logistics. Logistics start from the beginning; and to the end. It begins with procurement, on behalf of the importers, shipment, carriage, market, etc.

A manufacturer in Nigeria who wants to sell his products in Europe needs the attention of a freight forwarding company, to see all the modes of carriage, from the factory to the desired market. That is what freight forwarding is all about.

Customs brokage is a representation of the Government’s desire to maximize its revenue without being short-changed. That is why we w are licensed under a bond; that is why we renew our licenses every year; that is why we do training for our members regularly; and that is why we operate, under double jeopardy.

 

Question: Come again. Why double jeopardy?

 

Shittu: The creation of the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (CRFFN) gave an advantage to intermodal carriers, the group of people that Lucky Amiwero would easily call the transporters to now seize the opportunity to pretend to be Customs brokers.

Nigeria only license corporate bodies, so that they can have an entity that can be held accountable for every operation. They don’t license individuals. If the individuals who are managing such corporate entity would still be there, to be held liable.

For instance, the ‘looters” are meeting their waterloo today, and paying back, because of the corporate accounts they had used in siphoning such monies. You can check this out, for yourself.

If Shittu had received money; they would examine all the corporate organizations under Shittu, because at on-set, Shittu didn’t swallow that money. And it is through Shittu’s corporate account that they would easily trace such funds; and its subsequent movement.

The freight forwarders are clamoring that customs should license individuals; the same individuals who were registered by the CRFFN with no verifiable address. Some addresses are churches!

If you check the records of the CRFFN today, many of the freight forwarders in Lagos have one common address in Apapa. But is that his house? Is that his office? How can your association office also become members’ office? So, if anyone gives you money and you melt into thin air, they would go to Apapa and wait for you? And if anyone there says: ‘sorry, we don’t know so-so person’, then the matter ends?!

The CRFFN should have done a neater job by simplifying the task: ‘Okay, all of you, working under customs brokers, this is your register. And ‘all of you, working as  logistics providers under freight forwarding, this is your register. There would have been peace, everywhere.

The crowd you see in the  port today is because, everything has been muddled up. It is like preparing ‘ewedu’ and ‘egusi’ together.

You know when you mix it, you will still see the specs of ‘egusi’ inside the ewedu.  Now, if you continue to cook it, the specs of egusi would continue to disappear, because the ewedu is over-coming the relevance of egusi.

Let me indicate this: the APM Terminals  just came up with a guideline, under its international best practices: ‘Don’t come into our Examination Bay unless you have been registered under a licensed company, that is working on that container’. So, the individual must be representing that company; otherwise don’t!

The freight forwarders immediately kicked! Their argument is that they have a right to be in the port!

Why do they kick? This is where the Minister should have been properly informed. Alas, the Minister is not being properly briefed!

The truth is: there is no operation in the port that is individualistic! Except, perhaps labour i.e. stevedores and dock- labour. The rest are by companies.

You cannot be registered by a shipping company unless you come with a   customs’ license– and that is a  company.

You cannot do any declaration, except you are a company. You cannot be registered with a terminal, except you are a company. And that is why when they are releasing cargoes, they release cargo to the importer, through the license of the agent.

That way both of you can be traced! And that is why the CEMA says: for any job you do, you are accountable to enquires on that job, for seven years.

There is no scriptures like that, for the ordinary individual. He doesn’t even have to go to his village, to escape arrest. He would still be in Lagos! He only needs to change his address from one cemetery to another, somewhere else. That is all!

I can tell you we have made varying attempts to reach out to the Minister, for him to hear our own side.

We are suffering, under double jeopardy. We have registered with the CRFFN– as corporate companies. All our principal workers have registered with the CRFFN. I have my registration number.

We are also licensed by the Customs; corporately, with all the guidelines, rules and regulation and we belong to the Association of Nigerian Customs Licensed Agents (ANLCA). It is the corporate agency that makes up our numbers.

So, every year, as we are renewing our licenses as Customs agents, we are also renewing our CRFFN license; and we are paying membership fees.

Similarly, we are also renewing our registration with the Nigerian Port Authority(NPA). We are registering annually with the shipping companies; annually with the terminal operators; via the same company names, as licensed by the Nigeria Customs!  Now is that not really a double jeopardy?

You can now understand why we believe, that the CRFFN registration should have been limited to only freight forwarders.

In future, our prayers is that Nigeria should be producing more for exports, than we import. Freight forwarders, just as the name implies, is to forward cargo from Nigeria to other countries. But the Customs agents, anywhere in the world, is to help government maximize revenue, legitimately!

 

TO BE CONTINUE PLEASE…

 

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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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