• Saturday, April 20, 2024
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FG advised to save maritime sector by refloating national carrier


Maritime activities closed on Friday with an advice by Prof. Alex Okwuashi that the Federal Government should salvage the maritime sector by refloating the national carrier.

Okwuashi, a Professor of Maritime Economy, gave the advice on Friday in Lagos.

According to him, government must help salvage the maritime sector now and not listen to advice from some quarters that it should not be involved due to the investment errors of the liquidated Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL).

He said that those saying that government should not refloat the NNSL did not understand the shipping market.

“Acquisition of ships is capital intensive and may not be easy for indigenous shipping companies.

“ To listen to such comments not to refloat the national shipping line is to destroy the future of youths studying shipping, seafaring, marine engineering and other subjects,’’ said Okwuashi.

The maritime expert warned against the continuous investment on seafarers without commensurate investment in some strategic maritime infrastructure.

He said that, “seafaring is not Nigeria’s priority,’’

Okwuashi, who is Rector, Certified Institute of Shipping of Nigeria (CISN) mentioned infrastructure like ships to address the shipping markets and other maritime operations such as ship building sector, associated ports’ infrastructure and fishing trawler markets

He said that not addressing all these would amount to chasing the shadows and “`a clear pointer to the collapse of Nigerian shipping in the next 10 years’’.

In the week under review, the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside, said that the agency was not recruiting and advised members of the public not to be deceived by fraudsters.

This is contained in a statement issued in Lagos by the Head, Corporate Communication of NIMASA, Hajia Lami Tumaka.

Peterside said that NIMASA was not recruiting at the moment, adding that members of the public should not be deceived that the agency had engaged a recruitment firm to employ on its behalf.

“We urge members of the public to disregard the activities of unscrupulous elements who are bent in defrauding them of their hard-earned resources under the guise of engaging on a recruitment exercise for NIMASA,’’ the director-general said.

He also described as fraudulent an online platform purporting that the agency had floated a scholarship programme tagged “NIMASA Scholarship 2016/2017’’.

Peterside said that the advertisement was the handiwork of some “unscrupulous’’ elements with an intention to rip off unsuspecting members of the public.

Also during the week, the Chairman, National Seafarers Welfare Board, Chief Kunle Folarin, said that Nigeria was confronted with the problem of dearth of seafarers, especially in the officers’ cadre.

Folarin, the Chairman, Nigerian Port Consultative Council (NPCC) made the disclosure in an interview with NAN

According to him, the officers’ cadre needed should be in the range of 2,000 to 3,000 to service the domestic, coastal and foreign trades.

The maritime economist, however, said that the population of Officers cadre of seafarers were far below 2,000.

He said that the officers could be engaged to serve in the proposed national maritime carrier fleet, depending on how the proposed company would be structured to grow..

Folarin said that the shortfall, if viewed from Nigeria’s demand’s perspective, would l be much more in the officers’ cadre and less in the Ratings cadre.

The maritime economist said, “Government’s action should firstly be to address the issue of ship acquisition and trading by Nigerian shipping entrepreneurs.’’

In the week under review, the APM Terminals Apapa Ltd., and West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) installed controls to ensure containers loaded with a shipping line for export had valid Verified Gross Mass (VGM).

This is contained in a statement by the General Manager, Communication & Sustainability, APM Terminals, Nigeria, Mr Augustine Fischer, a copy of which was made available to NAN.

The statement said that the new measure was in accordance with the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Regulations.

According to the statement, APM Terminals has established SOLAS compliant Electronic Data Interchange capabilities with the shipping lines in Nigeria to share VGM information prior to vessel loading planning.

“The firm also has its weighing instruments verified by the Department of Weights and Measures of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.

“In 2014, the International Maritime organisation (IMO), the agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating international seaborne trade, approved amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention which as of July 1, 2016, will require verification and documentation of loaded containers before they can be loaded onto vessels.

“This can be accomplished by either weighing the loaded container with calibrated and certified equipment or weighing the cargo prior to loading and adding it to the tare weight of the empty container.

“The purpose of the VGM regulations is to assure safety of the vessel, as well as the dockworkers and other cargo handlers by preventing overweight or otherwise misrepresented containers from jeopardising shipments or container movements,’’ Fischer said in the statement.

APM Terminals Head of Global Operations, Jack Craig said, “Our first priority remains to ensure safe and efficient operations for the supply chain.’’

According to Craig, it is crucial that these regulations are met in a way which does not create congestion bottlenecks that ultimately impose additional risk and cost for all stakeholders.