Fifteen years after the enactment of Cabotage Act, foreign shipping lines are still setting the tone for local ship owners as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) failed to address challenges in the sector. BAYO AKOMOLAFE reports
Carriage of liquid cargoes by local ship owners has become a nightmare because of the flagrant abuse of waiver clause in the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2003 enjoyed by foreign shipping lines.
The act was established to promote indigenous shipping but in contradiction, foreign liners are the ones benefitting from the country’s coastal trade.
It was gathered that the allocation and carriage of liquid cargoes and other shipping services that fall under the coastal shipping regime have been dominated by foreign ship owners as the apex maritime regulator, NIMASA, failed to protect the local shipping lines.
Also, a vetting regime has been introduced in the selection of vessels that are used in coastal distribution of wet cargoes, such as petroleum products. It was learnt that foreign vessels, which bring the cargo to the country, were the ones dictating which vessel carries the cargo for distribution under the vetting regime.
This strategy has thrown many indigenous shipping companies out of business, as many of them are not selected in the process.
A former Director General of the agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, had said that average cargo traffic of 152 million metric tons worth over $5 billion in freight earnings was being generated in the country annually.
He noted that over 90 per cent of this income was earned by foreign shipping companies.
Also, at a recent stakeholders’ forum in Abuja, the Director General of the agency, Dr, Dakuku Peterside, said that Nigeria was one of the major exporters of oil and gas resource in the world.
He explained that the country had an average output of 1.92 million barrels of crude oil per day, which generates huge freight for carriers.
However, the director general admitted that indigenous shipping operators had insignificant share of the freight earned from the carriage of Nigeria’s crude compared to foreigners.
Dakuku also said that members of Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) such as Iran, Indonesia, Algeria, Kuwait, Angola, Venezuela, UAE and Libya allowed indigenous operators to participate actively in shipment of crude oil, stating that with the right policies in place, Nigeria could build its own capacity and one of this is the change of terms of trade for Nigeria’s benefit.
Echoing him at the forum, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, said that the corporation did not have any reason not to allow Nigerians lift crude.
It was learnt that foreign vessels banned in Europe, which are not supposed to operate on the nation’s waters are in fact leading and dictating in the distribution of imported petroleum products in the country’s waters.
Local shipowners said that the practice goes through various manipulations of the system with the situation worsened by the failure of NIMASA to check the perpetrators.
The President of Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), Capt. Niyi Labinjo, said that because of the failure of the regulatory body, Nigeria was losing N2 trillion annually to foreign liners.
He explained that 60 vessels belonging to Nigerians out of 600 vessels were jobless.
Labinjo said that some of the companies were seriously struggling, adding they had been working with less than 20 per cent of their workforce.
President of Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Greg Ogbeifun, expressed displeasure over the challenges facing indigenous ship owners and the turn of event in the industry in the last two years.
He noted that indigenous tonnage had gone down, while seafarers were going out of job.
According to him, most ship owners were unable to meet their obligations to the financing banks, leading to loss of jobs and failed businesses.
The president said that what was needed to grow the Nigerian shipping industry and the economy was government support for Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF), which will enable them lift Nigerian crude and ultimately boost indigenous capacity.
There is need by government to change its terms of trade in order to promote indigenous coastal shipping and local content policy.
TCIP Customs explains cargo clearance delays at port
The Tin Can Island Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has said the recent in cargo clearance being witnessed by importers and Customs Brokers at the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports in Lagos is because the NCS Internet Server was down thus impeding cargo documents processing.
This was disclosed by the Tin Can Island Customs Public Relations Officer, CSP Tony Ejesieme during a chat with the Sunday Telegraph on Wednesday at the port city of Apapa.
Ejesieme noted that the internet network breakdown as experienced by the Service could cause delay at anytime and was not the fault of the NCS but that of a bad weather.
The PRO, who admitted that there was delay in cargo release, said the command had not captured any importers for cargo release but was optimistic that the network would surge back and cargo clearance processing would commence immediately.
“We have not been able to work since morning as no importers have been captured. This is another delay; issuing debit note has become a problem. But the network will certainly come back and we will commence work immediately,’’ said he.
According to him, the major reasons for delay were non-compliance with import guidelines, wrong classification and declaration by importers, and lack of working scanners.
He, however, absolved the Service of any complicity and maintained that the NCS works based on procedure. ‘’Whatever we are doing is based on procedure and in accordance with the import laws. It is true that there is delay; if there are issues of infraction, there will be delay,’’ he said.
Ejesieme also caused by lack of scanners, saying that all scanners in all the ports in Lagos have broken down completely except only one in Apapa which could not handle all cargo in the port and that is why many cargos are routed to physical examination.
‘’Scanners are not working; only one is working in Apapa, no one in Tin Can. The issue of scanners has to be settled and we have engaged government on it.’’
Advising importers and customs agents to adhere to the import guidelines, he said that the security of nation as the nation approaches the general elections in 2019 would not be compromised as the Service is working with other government agencies to protect the territorial boundaries of the nation.
UBA Foundation reading through regions in Africa
As part of its mission to improve the lives of communities in which the United Bank for Africa operates, UBA Foundation said it has continued to encourage African youths to adopt the culture of reading through its ‘Read Africa’ initiative.
Read Africa aims to rekindle the reading culture amongst young Africans. Designed and introduced in 2011 by the UBA Foundation, the initiative has donated hundreds of thousands of books to African schools since its inception.
This past week, The Foundation took its initiative to the francophone city of Libreville to the students of the George MABIGNATH high school in Gabon.
The launch of Read Africa in Gabon saw in attendance, the author of the selected book Sidonie, written by famous Gabonese writer Chantal Magalie MBAZOO.
It was a colorful ceremony that witnessed the CEO of the Foundation, Bola Atta reading to and interacting with the students in high energy in the presence of their Principal, Mrs. Boudounghou Biboutou Isabelle and other staff members.
Bola Atta summarized the Foundation’s initiative saying, “At the UBA Foundation, we are committed to improving the lives of the youths on the continent and one of the ways we can achieve this is to help you read more. I am here to talk to you a little about the importance of reading and how it can radically change your life. Reading encourages you to dream, it expands your knowledge, your vocabulary. It is a path to achieving your ambitions”.
Chioma Mang, the CEO of UBA Gabon also reiterated the mission of UBA and emphasized the bank’s commitment to the Gabonese community. “ I love children and I am happy to be here with you all today. I’d like to encourage you to read very well so that you can reach great heights in your life like me. UBA is going to be there for you all the way. You can count on us”, she said.
The Read Africa initiative then moved on to Zambia to the Horizon Secondary School in Lusaka where the Director in the ministry of higher education in charge of Vocation, Education and Training, Mr. Alex Simumba, thanked UBA and the Foundation for the good work that is being done across Africa. He said, “To UBA Foundation, we thank you for your support to the institution today. We welcome this and many more collaboration in the field of literacy and other higher education programmes. We also further encourage other private sector organisations to take a keen interest in such programmes because the youths who are receiving these literary materials will be benefitting greatly from them,” he said.
Shell has disbursed N1.88bn to GMoU clusters in Delta State
The General Manager, External Relations, SPDC, Mr. Igo Weli has said that Shell Petroleum Development Company, (SPDC) is still active in Delta State noting that the oil giant has executed a lot of projects in the state.
According to him, the oil giant has disbursed a total sum of N1.88 billion to Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) in clusters.
Igo Weli, who disclosed this when he spoke with newsmen in Warri on Thursday, revealed that the GMoU funding covers the three clusters currently active in Delta State since the inception of the concept in 2006, adding that Cluster Development Boards (CDBs) like their counterparts in other parts of the Niger Delta, are implementing health and educational projects among others.
During the media presentation of the 2018 Shell Nigeria Briefing Notes to Journalists, he also disclosed that Shell has established a Professorial Chair at the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun (FUPRE,) as it continues to operate in the state and contribute to its development.
Weli explained that the Professorial Chair in Light Weight Automobile Engine Development was activated at FUPRE in December last year and is the latest of six established by SPDC JV, noting that the Chair at Effurun is expected to contribute to the growth of local content in Nigeria’s automobile industry.
He added that in a bid to boost employment especially among youths, more than 700 young men and women have benefited from Shell’s LiveWIRE initiative between 2003 and 2017.
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