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WEEKEND GINGER: CABOTAGE LAW TURNS INTO COB-WEB

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…AS SALVATION COMES TO LADOL THROUGH HIGH COURT

The taxi veered into Al Maktoum Road, did two turnings and surfaced at the Baniyas Square; by the right was the imposing structure of the Landmark Hotel, while the left was the entrance to the magnificent train station.

From the corner of my eyes, I saw the distinctive features of Whitefort Hotel, and the Floral Hotel; just then, the taxi cab took another turning, ran down two streets, then slowed down. 

“You are a Nigerian?”
I said I was. The streets were wide, clean and beautiful. Cleaner than the streets in Abuja. Their highways were wider, far wider than those of London. They may not be homely like those of Houston or quietly cold like those of Sugarland in the USA, but they were simply more glistening and dazzling than those of New York!

“Nigerians are welcomed here. As a matter of fact, everybody is welcomed in Dubai, but, Nigerians are specially welcomed here.

“Nigerians? Good people. Good investors. They buy houses. They always buy houses. They always pay cash!”, he said, took another turning, and slowed down, almost stopping the cab.

“This house belongs to a Nigerian. Beautiful house. Only US $860,000. The third one from the back, belongs also to a Nigerian. On this street alone, four Nigerians owned houses. Good houses. But the one by the turning in front, is costly. It cost $1.25m. Good house. Very good house”, he said, as he took another turning and started speeding towards Jumeira. He had picked me up from the Times Square hotel, at Deira Park.

When I arrived the venue of the Advanced Journalism training course, David Ogah of the Guardian and Bayo Akomolafe now of the New Telegraph wanted to know why I was late. I was dumbfounded. Was it for the fact that Dubai is such a breathtakingly beautiful city? Or, for the revelation that several houses in Dubai belong to Nigerians? 

This Tuesday, when news filtered in that the son of a Governor, who owed workers six months, in unpaid salaries was allegedly arrested at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos with over N178m cash, en-route Dubai, UAE; I instantly remembered Alli, the Pakistani taxi driver: “Nigerians? Good people. Good investors. They buy houses. They always buy houses!”

Now, make no mistake about this: Kabiru Aregbesola, like every other Nigerian, has a right to invest in Dubai. A hardworking son of a very hardworking, integrity preaching father; the alleged money might not belong to Osun State. Only that the embittered and embattled workers may in no way find this argument funny!

Proverb 12 vs 10 says the righteous man is concerned, even about the welfare of his beasts. Mahatma Ghandi proved this beyond any reasonable doubt: feeding his goats, several times, before attending to his sickly wife. Governor Rauf Aregbesola is a righteous man, and we hold him and his family in high esteem. The Ogbeni should pay the workers, without further delay; even if it is only one month! Several homes and marriages, are already in disarray Sir!

At this point, only God can now guarantee that the salvation maritime stakeholders had been craving for, may still come from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

The agency had told everybody, shortly after the Presidential elections, that the Minister of Transport had directed the full implementation of the cabotage law. The uninformed rolled out the drums. The well-informed laughed ruefully.

On Wednesday, three foreign vessels, without any waivers granted them, sauntered into the nation’s maritime domain, and allegedly breached the cabotage law.

Acting on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between NIMASA and the Nigeria Ship-owners Association (NISA, then ISAN), in 2010/11 when Temisan Omatseye was the Director General; and reinvigorated by the NIMASA’s confirmation of a Ministerial order for the agency’s full cabotage implementation, the body quickly alerted the DG’s office!

“Oga DG Sir! We have caught three foreign vessels, performing cabotage jobs, without any waivers to do so. Please come and arrest them sir!”

“Haa, that’s very good? Where is their location?” They told them.
“That’s good. What are their names?”

They told them one was MT. Strider, the second was MT. Adela and the third was MT. 

“Okay. Our men will get there in a jiffy. That’s good of you. This is a test case!” And truly they got there, in a jiffy!

Six hours later, the people allegedly phoned the office again.

“Yes? What’s the problem?”
“Have you arrested the ships?”
“No. We are investigating”.

About 24 hours later:

“Can we speak with Oga? Can we speak Oga?”
“What’s your problem?”
“Have you arrested the ships?”
“No. We are still investigating!”

Three days later:
“Please, please, can we speak with Oga?”
“No, you can’t speak with Oga o. What’s the problem again?”
“We want to tell you that the Strider has completed the breach and is now escaping. It is very much, escaping now!”

“We cannot arrest it. We are still investigating please!”
The Strider, according to our sources has finally escaped. The other two were expected to follow suit, this afternoon.

If NIMASA investigates for four days, when would the arrest be effected. The Cabotage law is perhaps, becoming like  cobweb. It allows the giant cockroaches to walk freely away, while catching small, small flies!

When we finally got the attention of the NIMASA image-maker, Isichei Osamgbi, he simply took the Maritime First to the cleaners; emphasized that he didn’t consider us a serious platform; and as such would neither respond to the text message he got, nor listen to all the entreaties to provide verbal explanation, except we send the message in the text he got, via an e-mail! 
He however also declined to make his e-mail id available, despite all entreaties to do so! 

In the meantime, a freight forwarder in Lagos got drunk yesterday. He bought drinks for every body. I was thinking that his team, Chelsea the Blues had won another match. I was wrong. But even in his stupor, I made a little sense of what he was saying:

“Drink… Drink everybody,… drink. I’m paying. If they ‘Bayero’ us, we will ‘Tsoho’ them! If they ‘Bayero’ us, we will Tsoho them!”. He was drunk. 

But one of those celebrating with him gave me the details, in more coherent manner: A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos had clasped an order of interim injunction, Suit. No: FHC/L/ CS/ 684/2015, on the the National Assembly, President Goodluck Jonathan, the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar and their agents or privies , including the NPA Managing Director, Prince Ado Bayero, not to execute, touch or tinker with the letters of NPA of April 27th, 2015, closing LADOL operations from Lagos and relocating same to Bayelsa State.

The Presiding Judge, J.T. Tsoho also said the issue would be not be re-visited by anybody, until four days, into General Muhammadu Buhari full take over, of the mantle of leadership of the country.

Salvation may not come from the NIMASA. It sure will, from the judiciary!
Congratulations Nigeria!

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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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