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Weekend Ginger: Pre-shipment Inspection: SON reintroduces policy banned by Government

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…As Government sleeps

The Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) has adopted new measures to ensure that Nigerians spend, at least, additional N20, 000 or more in buying cars, despite Government determination to work for reduced cost of doing business in the nation’s ports.

Ngozi-Okonjo-Iwela

Ngozi-Okonjo-Iwela

Sent out of the ports few years back, alongside other agencies, over reasons which were not unconnected with undue cargo delay and raising port-operating costs, the SON like the remaining agencies have all ‘sneaked’ back, while Government sleeps.

Prince Olayiwola Shittu

Prince Olayiwola Shittu

Specifically, the SON has not only gone back, it has also engaged three other high-calibre companies, including the Cotecna Destination Inspection Limited, Quality Assurance Projects Limited and Medtech Scientific Limited, one of them even far stronger than itself to flag off a policy the Government abrogated: the Pre-shipment Inspection of cars!

What this means is that those engaged by SON would now pitch their tents abroad so that individuals or car dealers, after buying, would invite them for inspection, pay over N20,000 levy per car; on confirmation that the car or cars in question, is up to Nigerian Standards or specification. Yet, the SON till this minute, has not publish to hungry Nigerians, proudly doing thanksgivings in the mosques and churches, over a 17 year old “tokunboh” car, what Nigerian Spec means!

Already, the Association of Nigerian Customs Licensed Agents (ANCLA) has not only expressed their discomfort with the move, but even threatened to down tool, in bid to frustrate the policy.

An industry watcher, Anthony Emeordi is already hailing the SON for its present move, but only advising that the agency should have engaged six, instead of three companies.

“You would remember what the Bible said: that when an angel you sent out is able to come back, because you went to bed too early, it would go out, engage six others, come back and repossess the territory; and the fate of the nation may be imagined!”, Emeordi said, advising the SON to engage three more.

He loves the SON!

But honestly, can you blame the SON, when virtually all the agencies sent out a few years back or so, are today, all back?! The strong ones jumped over the ports’ fence. The weak ones like the SON came around, first hanging around the streets near the ports, and when they were not challenged, gradually moved towards the Ports’ gates. Today, they are not only doing illegal “bold-face”, they have begun to re-introduce policy that Government banned!

But who declared them banned from the Port? Was it not the present Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala? Is she no more powerful now, than when she made declaration on behalf of the Federal Government, as a mere Minister of Finance? The next time I visit the University of Ibadan, I would gladly tell my aged lecturer, that he lied, when he taught us that Government is continuous! Is Dr. Okonjo Iwealah still there?

But, is the problem with the SON or with the N20,000 inspection levy? Do we need to blame the SON, for its ingenious approach towards telling stakeholders that the body is finally, fully back?

A seasoned Customs broker told the Maritime First, that they would resist the SON, because, they were already paying a N20,000 on every truck, going into the port!

Our crew refused to believe, and so called on five other agents, who all confirmed it. Maritime Truck drivers popularly called AMATO may be paying, at least, between Apapa and the Tin Can Island Ports, are paying N20,000 before they were allowed entry, into the port. The drivers simply add the ‘paltry’ amount to what the importers would pay. And the importers also, smartly build it into what the ultimate consumers, the poor Nigerians are paying on goods.

Now, if statistics indicate that over 200 trucks daily enter into the Lagos ports, does it mean then that poor Nigerians are extorted daily, over N4 million through the port system? Does this not summed up into a mind boggling figure of over N1.5 billion annual racket, in Lagos?

Could this be one of the reasons that the National President of ANCLA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu is often decrying the multi-facet manifestation of corruption in the industry. “Nigeria is the only country, where a man comes to the port, in September and yet wants to drive back to his village in an expensive car in December?” he always lament, in his usual patriotic zeal.

Is anyone now going to investigate the “allegation” of N20,000 per truck extortion with the aim of curbing it?
And is anyone going to investigate the legality or otherwise, of the SON’s approach towards “possessing” its “possession”?
Are we truly corrupt in Nigeria? Are we corrupt, because the Government is corrupt? Or, are we just corrupt, because the Government, being too busy with a re-election bid, is not in a position, to restrain us?!

See you next week.

NB
We apologize for not serving you your sumptuous Weekend Ginger, last week 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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