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Why NIMASA Must Be Overhauled- Greg Ogbeifun

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  • Advocates for parastatals heads regular brainstorming meetings

We conclude today, our 100-minute chat with GREG OGBEIFUN, the Chairman of the STARZS Group and Arrowhead of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), wherein the shipping mogul bares it all: highlighting the ‘Sins’ of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and how to heal it.
“NIMASA must be Overhauled”, highlights Greg, even as he counsels that Heads of NPA, NIWA, Shippers Council and NIMASA must meet regularly, if the Nigerian Maritime industry must timely attain its mark!
Happy reading please:-

Let’s take a closer look at the Nigerian ports Authority (NPA). Do you think the NPA presently, is sufficiently encouraging the Nigerian ship owners with any package likely to make them grow?
I am not an expert on ports. The reason is because the type of business I am into, I deal more directly with the I0Cs who charter your vessels, and handle all the issues relating to port issues by themselves. I do not get involved.

But, I am also aware that some of our members whose vessels, for example are not working and are waiting for some charter party are complaining on issues of charges. I do not know much about Lagos. But I believe that to move their ship from crean Island to Onne, they may need to pay several thousand dollars. They call it Port something charge. I know it is much. For that reason, I know our members are crying. And I think that area needs to be looked at.

But in the nation’s interest, I think the NPA must know where the ship owners relate with them, and create a forum of interface.

Their focus (presently) is terminal operations, international shipping; and how much revenue they can generate. Whether the indigenous shipping is alive or dead, it doesn’t look to me like they really care.

I know that NISA paid a courtesy visit to the NPA managing Director, sometimes ago; and I think the papers said they were going to support the ship owners but how, they did not specify.

Most industry watchers do not focus on NPA. It is the NIMASA that everybody is looking at.

Greg Ogbeifun

Greg Ogbeifun

Only recently, we were invited actually by the shippers council, I mean the executive of the Shippers Forum to a meeting, to thank us and congratulate us for taking the current initiative, and to assure that the council would always be there now for us, to engage, as ship owners.

But, I know that it is very important that there should be a Committee, comprising the heads of the Shippers Council, the headship, not a representative of NPA, the headship of NIMASA, and the headship of NIWA, (not delegated headship) where these four people would periodically meet to review how a synergy can be evolved to grow the industry in the nation’s interest. This is because their activities are interwoven. That is why sometimes you may find the NIMASA’S interest clashing with that of the NPA, over simple issues like who has the responsibility for removing wrecks or who does not have the responsibility for removing wrecks – when the removal of wrecks is totally in the nation’s interest.

Such a Committee would also help to eliminate a situation where the NIMASA’S interest is clashing with that of NIWA, on issues of who is going to collect which rate or levy on water. Their synergy or collaboration will reposition the industry for its best prospects. But as things stand, there is no way the industry can grow faster.

Right now, some of us are trying to whisper this to those who should act and bring them together. The result would be unprecedented. I surely believe it should be a ministerial matter. Instead of ‘I meet with you;’ and ‘I meet with you’; why not, ‘let’s meet together in a forum’, but it must not be a public forum.
They should come together and say can we just sit down together and see areas where we can be working together? That will certainly help immensely.

Now, you can see I have been going round and round to answer your question,  especially in terms of what I do think the Port Authority can do?

But, the Ports Authority may not even know there are issues that ship owners are encountering; with NIMASA, or NIWA. They may not know.

And if someone should write the MD NPA now saying, we want to meet you; the issue becomes ceremonious! The media would come there. The Public Relations would besiege there with television cameras and all; entertainment would be drafted in; and the real reason for the meeting would be shifted into the background.

But if there is a real working session; involving a bit of brainstorming where he can spare an hour with relevant stakeholders; I think it would happen, if you media people can put things like that in the forefront.

That’s why I always beg the media practitioners, please try as much as possible to focus on industry interest, not just sensationalism- even though it helps you to sell your papers.

But good things can also sell a paper besides, it would also help boost your status, considering the fact that you can set a good national agenda; and nurture it to see it happen and bring a whole lot of benefits on the industry and the citizens.
What advice would you give the new DG of NIMASA?

I would expect him to get as close as he can to the stakeholders – so that he could regularly rub minds with them.

And for those of you (media) dealing with other agencies you can also encourage those agencies to brief him meaningfully and appropriately.

The heads are susceptible to one distraction – the increasing number of meetings which may take away attention from core industry matters. And then the urge to compete for the minister’s attention, especially his presence at conferences organized by an agency.

So, I am challenging the media, to find away of encouraging them by accurately and meaningfully informing them. The media is always in touch with them. So, tell them.

In the developed nations, some of these industry challenges are collectively tackled! And at the end of the day, the industry grows and the people are happier for it.

What you see abroad is a blue-sea. But so far here, it is more like everybody keeps looking sideways, while some people defecate and pollute the waters, especially from the marina side. You don’t find such in the developed countries!

Yes, you find it here because most of those people doing that may not have better alternative conveniences to do it. Besides, many of those in the position of pollution control often see ships wastes as main source of pollution.

So, if you bring that area of concern to them, they may set it as more of an environmental issue, which is out of their own purview.

But, in fairness to your question, in place where you have such effluences messing up the environment, you can still engage some environmental watch dogs, even as you concentrate on wastes from ships.

You can say, let’s come together and harmonize our efforts. The aim would be to get the ship side clean, as well as the ports side clean at the same time. The solution to this can be found, like I said in collaboration. Collaboration is very important.

Finally, let’s look at the issue of tonnage, Liberia and its ship registry. We have far higher population, market and endowments. Yet, we are nowhere near Liberia in terms of either tonnage or ship registry attraction. Why is our ship registry unattractive?

If you think it was unattractive before, now after what the whole world has been watching on televisions and papers from EFCC reports, do you think it would now become more attractive? I don’t know if I have answered your question?

But, beyond that, we may also answer your question by looking at the (cumbersome) process of registering a ship in Nigeria.

I know there was a time they were flaunting the idea that a ship can be registered within 24 Hours here. But we know, it has never happened!

I have to keep a man permanently in Lagos, to ensure he goes to NIMASA everyday so as to follows up on our issue with respect to the registration of our ship.

We brought in a new vessel only weeks ago. We are expecting another new vessel, before the end of the year. That is to convince you that we have need for registration. But so far, the experience shows it is not easy at all!

So, if people like us are having such (harrowing) experience, do you think it would be easy to now see somebody who would come from a foreign country to come and register?

Obviously, they would normally ask those here: ‘please, if I want to come and register in your country, what would the experience be like?’ What would you says?

So, in summary, I hope the DG of NIMASA will listen. NIMASA needs to be completely overhauled!

If grieves my spirit as a professional that, as I am speaking today and you can quote me; there is no professional person who is adequately covering the job of the executive Director, Maritime Safety and Shipping. There is no professional person, experienced enough to cover that job or to cover the job of the Director, Maritime Safety .

These people have been suspended for issues that we all know. But should the system be left open? I know this because, my business is to do things in the way the book prescribes; but there is no body there with the authority to do handle the task. It is a problem. And that to me, is one of the most critical directorate of NIMASA.

So, I hope that the new headship of the agency will understand the need to urgently revamp that place – and revamping that place is not going to be by listening to the same old people there; and repeating exactly the same old thing!

He should probably engage new persons or advisers…. And I mean real stakeholders to turn around that place meaningfully. There should be measures that would enable him hear directly from stakeholders in respect of their experience about that agency. That will help him to engage his people,  the people inside the agency productively. It is very important; and that’s one of the ways we can help him.

I may not know what causes the delay in ship registration. But I know there is a checklist.

You present the checklist; some would go to this section of the agency, some would go to another section of the agency; and they would charge you.

For instance, some of your papers would go to the shipping development unit; another to maritime safety. But, all those should be summed up under internal issue.

I expect that they everyone should present the documents at one point; and from there, it goes to whoever it is meant to go to; and then come back as a certified document. But that is not what obtains.

We have to go and register the documents and the next thing is you begin to chase after them; monitoring when they are on seat and when they are not on- seat. It is frustrating! Very frustrating!

Eventually, you find yourself being in default of the law; due to no fault of yours. And to crown matters, the Agency’s Cabotage law enforcers would go on your ship; asking for the very papers you have paid for and failed to obtain from the agency. To them, it is : ‘you don’t have the papers!’; and in some cases, they are negotiating for you to give them money!

There are a lot of ship owners who are waiting to come and say it openly. Do you understand what I’m saying?

So, to your question; I would say if you are going to register a new ship, your surveyors are supposed to survey the vessel; and issue the relevant certification. But, that’s where the trouble begins!

But, does it actually take like how many days?

It takes forever! This is because, sometimes they tell you, they are not even there. Okay; at a point, I began to consider getting them on contract; those ones that come on board like demigods;

So, the system is not friendly. This is because it is not controlled or coordinated.

For most of us who are used to focusing on keeping to international standards, ensuring that things are done properly, it grieves you when you look and see the way things are done here; because you know it doesn’t need to be so!

But the actual part of the problem is because you have the wrong people in the right places! People who don’t know how it can be done better.

But then again, the issue is also about leadership. If you are the head… Don’t forget, I too run an organization. I have several staff employed; some of them are expatriates. Yet, I try and ensure that I know what is happening in every aspect of our organization! I have entrenched a feedback mechanism – whereby anybody encountered by operators, have a means of getting back to me immediately.

I may not be the person answering the  phone. But I have people whose job it is to keep me adequately and continuously informed. So, even without consulting me, you can still go through the system and get your desired data. So, I know it can be done!

Let’s take a closer look at the DG again. The last DG I know that came out to the Eastern Zone to engage the stakeholders was Temisan Omatseye. There was no any other one. And that is why I keep sounding the advise. We are old men in this game. So, you cannot but hear us!

You can’t sit in Lagos, shuttling Lagos-Abuja, Lagos-Abuja-London, (IMO); and the stakeholders are here lamenting in Calabar, Warri, Burutu, PortHarcourt, and of course, Lagos and be effective.

Of course, you must get out of your comfort zone and give yourself one week, so as to get to know what the issues actually are: especially of what these people are grappling with. It is those things you are regulating. You have to do that, because by the time you finish doing all of that, you definitely have the desired information to work with.

There after, you can now engage yourself in the job and be more effective! You must be willing to take permission from Abuja:  ‘please give me just one month, let me work!’

But, can we do that? And which is where the leadership in Abuja is also part of the problem.

I know of one instance; when Chief Adebayo Sarumi was the MD of NPA; as he was arriving Lagos, his phone rang; and he was being requested to start coming back to Abuja!

Except you are seriously focused and dedicated, how can you effectively and efficiently work?

There was also another parastatals head who was very smart; he simply set up and started operating office from Abuja.

So, when he goes to Abuja, he simply moves into his Abuja office and does all his work. Whenever he finishes in Abuja, he moves down to Lagos. That way, the stakeholders kept getting results, even though the man was not perpetually around in Lagos. And this definitely moves us into the area of the CEOs leadership style and vision.

So, a leader must be able to put in place, a system that helps you deliver on your mandate— all the challenges and shortcomings, notwithstanding!

CONCLUDED!

NB
We thank our numerous readers, particularly those whose reactions on the LinkedIn platform have enabled us to know you love Greg Ogbeifun!
– Editor.

 

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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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