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Shipping lines face holding bay, damaged containers’ challenge

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Shipping lines are currently facing challenge of securing holding bays to stack their empty containers as directed by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). Also, some of them are finding it difficult to return damaged containers to their ports of origin in Europe, Asia and America.

 

Investigation by New Telegraph revealed that in the first half of 2017, NPA recorded 223,168 empty containers in all the ports. It was gathered that a total of 101,717 empty containers were stacked at the port in the first three months of the year, while 121,451 empty containers were recorded between April and June last year.

 

The Lagos Port hosted 53,937 empty containers, while a total of 133,115 empty containers were stacked at Tincan Island Port in the period. Some of the liners operating in the country include Maersk Line, Arkas, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), African European Lines, Hull Blyth, China Shipping Company (COSCO), CMA-CGM and Pacific International Lines (PIL). Others are Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), ZIM International Shipping Line (ZIM) and SDV among others. Already, the authority has suspended Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and Hull Blyth over inability to provide holding bays for their empty containers.

 

The companies were accused of blocking ports and access roads with empty containers, leading heavy gridlock. It was gathered that they may not be allowed to berth their ships at the port if they failed to provide a bay. A source in one of the affected company told New Telegraph that NPA had first invited them for a meeting last November, over the issue but the management of his company declined to attend the meeting.

 

According to the source, “NPA was punishing our company for snubbing them. After all, we are not the only shipping lines that didn’t have a holding bay.” The source also said that his company was facing the challenge of securing a space for holding in Apapa.

 

He added that some of the empty containers were in bad shape, noting that some of the damaged containers fell on the Nigerian roads, adding that no shipping company would accept them in Europe.

 

It was gathered NPA, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Nigerian Shippers Council and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), have no record of empty containers in most of the terminals as over 40 per cent of the space at the ports was occupied by unfilled containers.

 

It would be recalled that NPA had at last November, had directed that all shipping companies should stack their empty containers and trucks in their holding bays outside the port pending the time their vessels would lift them out of the country.

 

However, after three months of non-compliance, NPA issued another warning last week, saying that shipping companies that littered the port roads with empty containers under the guise of a holding bay would be sanctioned. It said that severe sanction would be meted to erring organisations, which refused to obey the rules guiding the directives after one week.

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FBN General Insurance grosses N3.51bn premium in 2017

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FBN General Insurance recorded a gross premium of N3.51 billion in 2017. According to the firm, the account, which has been approved by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), revealed a 60 per cent growth in premium, moving from N2.2 billion in 2016 to N3.51 billion, while claims expenses also rose by 180 per cent from N270 million to N756 million. Profit Before Tax (PBT) closed at N322 million, also representing a year-on-year growth rate of 66 per cent.

The firm noted that the profitable growth was partly driven by improved asset and investment portfolio management, resulting in an investment income growth of 112 per cent. Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the firm, Bode Opadokun, said: “2017 was the year we consolidated on the strategic restructuring across key business functions.

This has inspired a profitable performance exemplified by our total assets recording an appreciable growth of 27% at year-end from NGN6.06bn achieved in 2016 to NGN7.72 billion in 2017. With our strategic marketing drive and the support of our dedicated staff, we are hopeful of sustaining our growth in 2018.” FBN General Insurance is a wholly owned subsidiary of FBNInsurance Limited, an FBNHoldings company associated with the Sanlam Group South Africa.

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Tincan Customs chief to implement 48-hour cargo clearance

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Customs Area Controller (CAC), Tin Can Island Port Command, Musa Baba Abdullahi has reiterated the command’s unshaken commitment to achieve 48hour cargo clearance from the port without compromising revenue collection and national security.

The customs chief said efforts are being put in place to maximise benefits of technology and build the command’s manpower to meet with the growing challenges of modern trade.

 

While addressing maritime journalists in his Apapa office, Musa identified swift dispute resolution as a key component to facilitate trade. He said the command has put in place a faster mechanism to address any area of disagreement in interpretations of guidelines for duty collection and other related matters.

 

He added that a committee put in place for disputes resolution meets as soon as any dispute arises to avoid port users incurring costs caused as a result of delays in resolving such disputes.

 

According to him, there is a quicker process of bringing issues to his attention and contacting the headquarters where necessary to avoid delays associated with such disagreements. He said the command has stepped up efforts at keeping officers and relevant stakeholders abreast with the use of technology for the purpose of customs operations.

 

The Controller disclosed that senior officers and licensed customs agents are being trained at the command’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) Centre on the latest Nigeria Customs Information System (NICIS 2) in batches.

 

Musa said the training and retraining of customs personnel and stakeholders will continue with a view to getting as many persons as possible knowledgeable in the workings of the system.

 

He also stressed the need for all stakeholders to increase their levels of compliance with rules and improve on their knowledge as ways of achieving seamless flow of trade thereby achieving faster clearance of goods from the port.

The Controller also advised the maritime media to uphold the ethics of their profession and be fair and truthful in all they do.

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Early rainfall to boost Nigeria’s cocoa mid-crop

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Nigeria’s mid-crop cocoa output for 2017/18 could rise by 15 per cent from last season, helped by a mix of rainfall and sunshine in the main growing regions which has helped the trees, President of Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN) Sayina Riman said in a recent interview with Bloomberg.

 

Drought cut last season’s mid-crop harvest by 40 per cent. The dry weather continued into the main crop of the new season.

 

Riman said the drought affected the trees, reducing output of between 300,000 tonnes and 320,000 tonnes projected at the beginning of the 2017/18 season.

 

He said that early rains in March and April have helped boost the mid-crop, which could see the season’s output close at around 290,000.
Riman farms on a 170 hectare cocoa plantation in Nigeria’s second-biggest region of Cross Rivers.

 

The cocoa season in Nigeria runs from October to September, with an October-to-February main crop and a smaller light or mid-crop that begins in April or May and runs through September.

 

“Despite the drought of last year which affected cocoa we believe we would be close to 290,000 tonnes for 2017/18 season,” Riman told Reuters.

 

The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), however, gives much lower estimates of Nigerian cocoa output. It forecast last season’s production at 225,000 tonnes.

 

Riman did not give a reason for the discrepancy. Nigerian government production figures are also significantly higher than ICCO estimates.

 

Nigeria has recently emerged from recession and a currency crisis which caused a chronic dollar shortage, forcing exporters to under-invoice their goods in order to use the foreign exchange black market to get premium for their hard currency.

 

The action caused the West African country slip to the sixth producer of cocoa in the world at the peak of the crisis. Riman said Nigeria was getting back to number four grower as exporters now use the official currency markets.

Riman said Nigeria was working on improving its bean quality especially with renewed demand from Europe.

 

However, bean count, a measure of the number of beans needed to produce 100 grams of cocoa, reached as high as 140 for the main crop.

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