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WEEKEND GINGER: Apapa gridlock, a national disgrace



Traffic-at-Mile-2-Bus-Stop-The Lagos State Government, like most other good-intentioned Nigerians, is beginning to come to terms with its limitation to remove the traffic gridlock on the Oshodi Apapa Expressway.

Gov. Babatunde Fashola

Gov. Babatunde Fashola

A no-nonsense Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola had thought he would in his usual “action-style”, throw the magic-wand and ‘e-fiam!”, the gridlock, particularly, the aspect between the Trinity Bus Stop and Tin Can Island Port would disappear. How wrong he was!

President Jonathan-Goodluck

President Jonathan-Goodluck

Subsequently, he has moved his Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) big boys there several times, to ginger or compliment the already frustrated group of police stationed their. No way!

Refusing to clearly accept defeat on the issue, the Maritime First learnt he took decisive actions that compelled the Federal authorities to draft in the military, particularly, the Navy, to help vanquish the gridlock. Still no way!

On one occasion, he threatened to impound any trucks he found, illegitimately “parking”, and obstructing easy flow of traffic. On another occasion, he carried out the threat. All was still the same!

The Action Governor of Lagos State has defeated almost all the traffic challenges in the State. And gradually, he seems to be coming to term, with the fact that, even for a focused and determined government, the silvery cloud on a sunny day, may still have some dark linings.

Some 15 years ago, the express-way between the Oshodi  and Apapa had no gridlock. Some 10 years away, nobody dreamt of any gridlock. Then, the authorities past failures to put in place, an enduring formulas for provision of petroleum products when and where needed began to take its toll.

The Atlas Cove Jetty, a platform created by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the NNPC to received larger tanker vessels, laden with petroleum products began to suffer more and more hiccups.
It worked intermittently.

During this period, “smart” Nigerians also learned they could key into the authorities shortcomings. So, when the ships berthed at the Atlas Cove Jetty and discharged, enabling the Cove to pump products towards Monsimi in Ogun State; Ibadan in Oyo State and Ore Depot in Ondo State, the big boys also waylaid the products, by “tapping” into the pipelines, and stealing from their. Those who did were in local parlance called”bunkering” or “bunkerers”.  It was regarded as a powerful name, not derogatory appellation. Why?

Poor people do not engage in “bunkering”. Those who do needed information, to know when products would be pumped. Such information, the poor could not afford to pay for. Those “bunkerers” needed co-joined tanker vehicles and the skilled men and materials to perpetuate their hobby. They also needed the outlets to sell off the stolen products; all of these, the poor could not afford.

But, it was also a well paying hobby! Each successful trip, according to informed sources, yielded several milion Naira, overnight!

Perhaps, this was also why the perpetrators usually escaped justice. They could buy their way out of trouble. Consequently, the “business” thrives.

Unfortunately, rather than fight them, the authorities slacked in the responsibility of providing the products. Fuel got scarce. Periodic fuel queues became a norm.

Then, a group of entrepreneurs came to the rescue: they obtained approval from Government to build “tank farms” and supply fuel to Nigerians, via tanker vehicles, who would move the products from their “farms” to the petrol stations. They also paid heavily to obtain the “license”. Many of them took heavy loans, running into billions of Naira, and on which they paid in compound interest. They were into legitimate business. They created the desired employment. But, as their businesses thrived, the trucks and tanker vehicles they brought also created not an ordinary traffic; but a GRIDLOCK!

Unfortunately for the residents and other road users, these group of people are mostly Billionaires. They have powerful friends in high places. They do not need to visit the corridor of power; those in the corridors sometimes, visited them, for campaign funds!

So, how do we remove the gridlock?
Would it be possible to remove the ants, if the granulated sugar, is still lying fallow in the farm? Have we accepted our mistakes, by acknowledging that it is the accumulation of our overall mistakes that created the gridlock? And are we now prepared to appreciate the enormity of the force, behind the gridlock?

A chieftain of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents who spoke on condition of anonymity said he parks his car everyday around Isolo, before coming to Dikko Inde House ANLCA Secretariat, at Mile 2; in dread of the gridlock. The National Council President, Mr. Lucky Eyis Amiwero says he particularly conducted studies on the nature of the phenomenon, which enabled him identified its “high tides” so that he could totally avoid it. A journalist, Funso Olojo described it as pure”hell”.  The doyen of the Nigerian maritime industry, and Ibadan High Chief, Adebayo Babatunde Sarumi once experienced it: he stayed alone in his car, from around 4.00 pm to about 12.45 am!

Perhaps, it is for reasons like this, that Governor Fashola may not rest. And perhaps, it is for these reasons that all Nigerians, particularly the powers that be, in Abuja, must see the prolongation of this gridlock, as a National Disgrace!


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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