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Mon Sep 2, 2019

SOAN aim by this Conference and Exhibition to provide a platform for Government and its agencies, regulators, and stakeholders in the logistics, maritime and shipping industry, the IOCs and indigenous players to debate policy formulations and a forum to create alliances.

Furthermore, it is a key platform for Nigerian Content Development, which as indigenous ship owners, we actively support. With the increased focus on local ship building in the near term, the attendant investment and development opportunities are innumerable.

We hope to be a catalyst in showcasing this and contributing to Continental, National and regional multilateral trade

Theme of the event is “Shipping, Global Economy and National Development.”.

Date: 27th – 28th November 2019

i) Day one, 27th November 2019 - Opening ceremony, Conference and Exhibition.

ii) Day Two, 28th November 2019 - Conference, Exhibition and Gala night.

Venue: Lagos Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island Lagos Nigeria.
  See Full Details

Tue Mar 5, 2019

SOAN 2019 General Election is scheduled to hold as follows:
Date: 26th March 2019
Venue: The Avenue Suites, 1390 Tiaimuyi Salvage Street Victoria Island Lagos.
Time: 11 am

The positions to be vied for at the election are as follows:
(i) President

(ii) 1st Vice President

(iii) 2nd Vice President

(iv) Financial Secretary/ Treasurer

(v) Chairman Technical Committee

(vi) Chairman Training and Capacity Building Committee

(vii) Chairman Ethics and Privileges Committee

(viii) Chairman Finance and Membership Committee

Qualifications for Elective Offices
As stipulated under Article 7 of the Association’s Constitution:
“A Candidate wishing to contest for election into any of the offices of the Association must satisfy the following conditions:-
a. Be a registered member of the Association for atleast 1 year.

b. Be a financial member

c. Be an active participant in the affairs of the Association.

Kindly submit your duly completed form to the Secretariat on or before Friday 15th March, 2019.

Make your vote count.


Returning Officer

  See Full Details

Thu Nov 29, 2018

The Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) holds The 4th edition of All Shipowners End of Year Workshop and Dinner

Theme: “The Nigerian Maritime Industry: Galvanizing stakeholders’ Engagement for Sustainable Growth”

Date: Tuesday, 11th December 2018

Time: 4:00pm

Venue: Lagos Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island Lagos

The objective of this year’s event like in the years past, is to bring all critical Stakeholders together, including Shipowners, Regulators, Business Leaders, Captains of the Maritime Industry in both the Private and Public Sectors among others, to engage extensively on the challenges of the Nigerian Maritime Sector.

Speakers / Panelists include:

1. Dr. Dakuku Peterside (Director General-NIMASA),
2. Mr. Roland Ewubare (Group General Manager-NAPIMS),
3. Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote (Executive Secretary-NCDMB),
4. Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman (Managing Director-NPA)
5.Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas (Chief of Naval Staff)

Attendance is strictly by invitation
  See Full Details






See News/Media


The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) as part of its efforts to increase patronage at the Eastern Ports, on Monday, approved a 10 percent discount on harbour dues in all concession terminals, at the Eastern Ports. The approval takes immediate effect.

An initiative that is capable of significantly pushing business to the Eastern ports, while relieving Lagos of its current gridlock, will specifically affect Calabar, Rivers and Delta Ports.

The Authority however clarified that the discount will only apply to four categories of vessels/cargoes:

Container vessels with at least 250 TEUs General Cargo vessels with at least 16,000 MT Combo Vessels with at least 16,000 MT; and, RORO Vessels with at least 250 units of Vehicles

The NPA General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Jatto Adams pointedly highlighted that the harbour due discount would not apply to all Vessels coming in ballast; Vessels calling at private jetties; and all vessels calling, carrying Liquid bulk.

Read more>>

In refusing to do the needful by heeding to professional advice and taking advantage of opportunities offered to engage the cadets on vessels, stakeholders in the shipping sector say the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) must take full blame for what they refer to as a show of shame exhibited at her head office last Monday by trained but idle cadets.

Cadets trained by the agency under its Nigerian Seafarers’ Development Programme (NSDP) barricaded the apex regulatory agency’s headquarters in Lagos, refusing to leave until they are assured of oppotunities for sea time training. This created tension and embarrassment to everybody including staff and visitors alike.

Speaking with Business & Maritime West Africa, seafarers and ship owners decried the inability of NIMASA to accommodate the inputs of professionals in running the NSDP programme especially the mandatory sea time experience which will qualify the cadets for employment. A prominent ship captain and board member of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners who chose not to be named described the NSDP programme as a waste of national resources contrived to serve personal interests and promote self-aggrandizement. From conception, he stated, it was not meant to succeed as sea time experience which qualifies the cadets for employment was carefully neglected.

In his reaction, President of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr Greg Ogbeifun, said what the idle cadets exhibited was not a surprise as NIMASA got what it actually bargained for. According to him, the agency prepared the ground for what happened when it refused overtures made by those who should know to help her engage the cadets meaningfully despite lack of encouragement by those in authority.

“I’m pleased with this development by the NSDP cadets; serves NIMASA right. SOAN gave NIMASA management a robust presentation that would provide about 400 training berths on a sustainable roll-over basis on our members’ vessels for cadets' sea time training, NIMASA rebuffed it with all sorts of excuses, preferring to use foreign opportunities for unknown reasons. I have continuously advised NIMASA to look in-country, partnering with SOAN to solve this problem but all to no avail,” Ogbeifun stated.

In 2017, the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) developed and presented to NIMASA a Cadetship Training Scheme (CTS) to help Nigeria address the challenges of meeting sea-time training for the needs of the Nigerian Seafarers’ Development Programme.

The scheme which NIMASA publicly hailed showed a vision anchored on professionalism, thorough training and mentorship, which actually dovetails into broad- based progression plan.

As SOAN President, Engr Ogbeifun had stated, “The SOAN initiative reflects our collective commitment as ship owners to addressing the dearth of suitably qualified seafarers for the Nigerian maritime industry”. Ogbeifun stressed the sincere confidence of SOAN members to see more cadets of NIMASA’s pet project, the NSDP, obtain the much-needed seaboard training, not only to satisfy their Certificate of Competence (CoC) requirements and fly Nigerian flag, but also to work on foreign vessels and earn hard currency.

He highlighted that two other African countries had already shown genuine interest by keying into the programme. But fueled by patriotism, he stated, the association decided to determine the actual needs of the country through NIMASA first, before throwing its gates open for other African countries.

He recalled that while Indians are supplying the officers cadre and Filipinos are availing the middle level group and ratings, the scheme was meticulously designed to ensure that Nigeria could supply both the officers and ratings, adding that SOAN was also working towards providing the sea-time at no bigger cost, but essentially that of minimal requirements for the cadets’ food, books, uniforms, medical and such other official requirements.

A glimpse into the CTS showed that those who would undergo the sea time would be selected purely on merit, following written examinations, after which the successful ones would go through oral interview.

The cadets would thereafter be on- board for at least a 12-month duration during which each would be rotated on different IMO approved vessels to ensure that they acquire different operational learning experiences under different team members in liaison with different International Oil Companies that SOAN members presently work with.

“Our streets are full of unemployed NSDP graduates”, Ogbeifun observed. He noted that no patriotic Nigerian, particularly SOAN member, could continue to fold his hands when Nigeria as a country is on the IMO White List. SOAN could ensure requisite training to provide cadets their OOW certification and subsequently empower them to prudently work both within and outside the country and realize their God-given goals.

In his reaction at SOAN’s presentation, NIMASA's Director-General, Dr Dakuku Peterside, had applauded the association, indicating: “I am amazed by the extent of work you have done. I am truly, truly grateful!”. He had stressed that the most important reason NIMASA exists is because there are ships to regulate. He commended SOAN for its unwavering commitment to the growth of the Nigerian shipping industry and threw the floor open for his executive directors and directors to provide inputs. Their appreciative responses if heard by the cadets presently loafing on the streets presently could instantly douse their restiveness and avert the protest of last Monday.

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Unfavourable economic policies and lacklustre maritime administration may have resulted in painful reduction in the number of vibrant shipping companies operating in Nigeria, by a whooping 42 percent, within the past three years.

The President, Ship Owners Association of Nigerian (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun gave a hint of this on Thursday, at Eko Hotel, Lagos, grieving that with the steady and painful contraction of shipping companies, a multitude of seafarers were also, reluctantly thrown into the Labour market, with its attendant socio-economic implications on both the families and the nation.

Speaking on the theme: ‘Urgent Call to Re-think Maritime Education and Training’ in his presentation at a Stakeholders Forum organised by the Alumni of Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron (AMANO), the nation’s foremost shipping mogul also noted that the unfavourable policies had made shipowners weak, vulnerable and grossly incapable of adequately pulling their expected weight, in the task of building up the economy; even as some areas of Port Harcourt now look like a mortuary for ships.

Engr. Ogbeifun explained that whereas every shipowner has a natural desire to pamper his workers, the seafarers; as treasured geese laying the laudable eggs, however for most shipowners who are currently fighting for survival, especially in view of staggering and intimidating bank debts, there is limit to what they can do.

He also said he had read the controversy on the online publications in respect of the ragging issue of Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and posited that it would be extremely hard for shipowners currently fighting to remain afloat and breath, to append their signatures on such document for now.d the nation.

“We have not signed the CBA document. And we are not likely to sign it, as it is presently”, the SOAN Arrowhead indicated.

Speaking earlier in a Welcome address, the AMANO President, Engr. Austine Ume Zurike harped on the need to bring more funds, attention, expertise and relevant traing equipment into the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, lamenting that while the Nigerian seafarers were so close to the Eldorado, they nonetheless remained still, stagnantly far.

“Nigeria is home to one of the oldest maritime academies in West Africa, as well as numerous marine institutions. “Over the years the Nigerian government through various initiatives has spent resources in training maritime professionals overseas” Zurike stated, and wondered why there is still pronounced proliferation of foreigners in the offshore oil and gas and marine industry, with trained Nigerians, abysmally marginalised.

Speaking in the same vein, a seafarer stressed the need for Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to adopt measures that would grow and strengthen the capacity of the nation’s shipowners to train and employ more seafarers, rather than engaging them as arch rivals.

“We don’t need the unions now. They have not been able to help those out of job, one bit! So, why pursue an agenda that would further worsen the situation”, he concluded.

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Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Starzs Investment Company Limited, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun in this exclusive interview with Shulammite ‘Foyeku, shares the story of the company’s new vessel, MV Osanyamo and the challenges faced in the course of acquiring the vessel. Ogbeifun who also doubles as the President, Ship owners Association (SOAN) also speaks on the newly acquired floating dock by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) which he described as a bad investment, among other issues.


What were the challenges faced with the acquisition of MV Osanyamo and how were you able to surmount them?

The story of Osanyamo datesas far back as 2009, when Total Exploration and Production came out with a call for tender. In coming out with a call for tender, they stipulated the tenure of the contract, which is five years and the generic specifications of the type of ship that they were looking for to perform certain functions and services. All bidders went out, put on their thinking cap to design ships that they thought could meet the requirement of the specifications and that became the technical bid but I am not sure all the bidders actually had existing vessels. We were bidding against the multi nationals; the bidding process was long and extensive because ultimately, it had to be finally approved by the board of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). After the whole exercise which lasted about two years, we came out as the most commercially and technically qualified company and NNPC approved the contract finally in 2011. At that time, the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) was much talked about, and the guidelines for the disbursement of the fund had been prepared by the Honourable Minister of Transport then and approved by the National Assembly as required by the act. Four primary lending institutions were nominated and those of us who had projects to finance were all asked to put in our application through our own nominated bank. Applications went to NIMASA and it forwarded it to the bank we nominated amongst the four. The banks did the credit analysis and all the checks about the project and made their recommendations. After several months of going forth and backwards and summiting documents, six companies were nominated as been eligible to access the fund and the six companies were sent to Abuja by NIMASA as required by law for the ministerial final assent and approval for disbursement. Unfortunately, that was not to be because the minister then, instead of approving and disbursing as he had the legal right to do, took it to the Presidency and that was the end of the story up till now. It was particularly disappointing considering that ship owners contribute two percent of their earnings into that fund. As at date, I know that Starzs Investment has contributed over $3million into CVFF fund since it was established. So naturally, one would have thought that it was an opportunity to get help to acquire additional tonnage, to employ more people, create training opportunities and add to the economy but that did not happen. The CVFF fund aggregated was to cost no more than eight to nine percent interest but when we lost that, we approached the commercial banks and after a further three years,finally got one of themto agree to finance the project. We were supposed to come with equity and this we had negotiated to build through the sinking fund which is okay with the bank but they needed a guarantor. The Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB) after one year of running around, agreed to guarantee the equity portion of the funding. When delays continued due to non-availability of funds to start the construction of the vessel, we exceeded the time given for the provision of the asset to Total. The vessel was supposed to have been built within 30 months of the contract awarded in 2011 but that could not happen because of the delay but we kept engaging Total and letting them know what is going on and eventually they gave us five percent of the contract value as an advance to assist with the funding. The major challenge was funding but with the support we received from First Bank, NCDMB and Total, we were able to construct the vessel. When the vessel was completed in December 2016, there was additional payment to make because of the variation in construction. At the time the contract was awarded, the design we used did not have the required Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) act which stipulate that the vessel accommodation has to be designed in a particular way because of labour law. So that caught up with us and that means we had to modify the design which led to additional cost and we are still looking for the money. Funding was the biggest challenge but technically and operationally we were competent. The ship yard after finishing the vessel in December 2016, decided to hold on to the vessel until the final payment was made. From December 2016 to February 2018 when eventually we went to take delivery, the vessel was just there at the ship yard accruing debt. One would have thought that this is the type of situation where funds like CVFF will step in but that was not to be. The sad thing is that now that the vessel is here, immediately it starts working, the first people that will come knocking on your door is NIMASA asking for two percent of your revenue. That is really the most annoying part. Regrettably, they will tell you that is what the law says but the law also says they should fund indigenous shipping to help them grow their business. What we really will like now is that instead of paying the 13 percent interest we are presently carrying on the dollar, it will be fine if we can see somebody to refinance and give us cheaper funds either within the country or outside. That is going to be our next effort.

Do you think there is need for ship owners to continue contributing into the CVFF since the fund seems inaccessible?

We cannot stop paying because that has to go the national assembly first for them to repeal the law. If NCDMB who collects one percent of our revenue can come out boldly to announce how much they have accrued in their funds which is roughly about $700 million, and that they had funded six companies on their websites, so why shouldn’t NIMASA do the same thing and put the CVFF fund in the public domain? Who are the people they funded, there has to be accountability? SOAN will have to engage NIMASA to give account of our funds. We don’t want to stop paying but NIMASA has to able to disburse. It is not necessarily acquiring new ships that matters but to help those who are already in business to stay in business. NIMASA is not thinking in that line, rather they are busy acquiring floating dock.

What do you think the government can do to encourage other indigenous ship owners to own ships?

At the expense of modesty, I would not want to see it as a one-sided effort. Yes, there is a role the government can play but there is also a role the operators should play. I think ship owning companies that have established good corporate governance in their system, should have a structure that operateson international standards because we are dealing with international bodies, the IOCs. Every ship owner should first try to ensure that their businesses are such that can attract support and patronage because that was the first hurdle we needed to overcome. At the call for tender, all the pre-requisites for qualification to even bid is on the ship owner. The ability to understand the business is also very important. For example, when they came out with the generic specifications, we were able to take that and work with the ship yard, making inputs to ensure that what is being designed meets the standard and that is why you find out that the ship is the first and largest Damen has ever built because we made input. It is good the ship owners put together their entity to have those experts come in and be part of their process. That is most important, because for the IOCs to take you seriously, you have to also show that you can deliver. The support I think the government can give is to encourage long term contracts. For example, the value of MV Osanyamo contract is $42 million and the cost of the vessel $25 million. It becomes easy for a financier to fund it if they see the value of the contract. But what has happened now is that they have stopped the long-term contract of five years and the contracts we are getting now is between six months and one year, which means no financial institution can actually fund the acquisition or purchase of a new vessel because the contract tenure is not long enough to pay back. So that is the first thing the government needs to do. What the MV Osanyamo project has proven is the fact that it is possible to start from no shape, go through longpainstaking years and then a ship emerges. That I think is the thing to take away because if there are more companies that are encouraged to go through this kind of process, then there will be more Osanyamo’s rather than the quick short process that establishes situations that are not sustainable.

Don’t you see the acquisition of the floating dock by NIMASA as a step in the right direction that would help save capital flight?

I read in the pages of newspaper that NIMASA is bringing a floating dock, and I ask myself is NIMASA going into ship building or repairs themselves now? Does the NIMASA Act stipulate that they can establish ship yards? Do they have the expertise to run shipyards? Somebody needs to tell us what they plan to do. May be instead of buying the floating dock, they should have found out the ship yards that are already existing in the countryand see how they make them grow bigger.Right now, a lot of Nigerian ship owners are still leaving this country to go outside to look for docking facilities. In an ideal world, the money that was used to build that the floating dock is a bad investment. It was not well thought through. Where is NIMASA going to operate it from? Where are the trained skill personnel that will operate it? That money should have been given to ship owners to buy ships and generate revenue and give back to them. Some of us are still waiting to know what NIMASA wants to do with that floating dock. Granted that this administration did not initiate this process, but if the new administration sees that this thing is already on, there are things it could have done. It could call a meeting of ship yards operators in the country, and ask if they can form a consortium and have a neutral yard to operate the dock or buy it off? The whole thing is just interesting and I am waiting to see how it goes. The cabotage fund is not meant for NIMASA to go and buy floating dock, it is meant to develop the industry, those who are already there and have the expertise.

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The Occasion marking the Christening, Dedication and Commissioning of MV Osanyamo, a brand new ship acquired by the Nigerian foremost shipowner, Engr Greg Ogbeifun has come and gone, but the memories of the event will live for ever in the minds of everyone who attended the epoch event. In this Special Report, Platform Reporters’ Sylvanus Obasi captures the mood, the atmosphere and the emotions expressed by shipping moguls and other notable dignitaries who spoke at the event. Enjoy the excerpts:

Barr Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council:

“I am glad to witness today’s occasion. We are here today to commission not just a vessel, but a brand new vessel by the CEO and Chairman of the STARZS Group, who also is the arrowhead of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN). Engr Greg Ogbeifun did not only re-invent the wheel, he has actually elongated the beauty of its process, in a most significant way. “Today’s occasion shows that Nigerians can successfully operate ships. I am happy, and I believe everybody here is happy for this achievement. I must thank Greg and his company, Starzs for making us proud. Thank you all “.

Mrs Margaret Orakwusi, Chairman of Ship Owners Forum:

“Starzs has made us happy and proud. I thank you so much Greg for this deal. We are here today to launch a brand new vessel. We have not seen a lot of that in our shores. So we thank you very much, and I think that is the way to go. “We want to appeal to government to enable indigenous shipowners to acquire vessels like this because when you have a vessel like this, it will last 30 – 40 years. What am I driving at? Investment in shipping is a long time project. So the funding has to be right. “A situation you borrow and pay high interest rate, any thing above 5% leaves you at a great disadvantage. So, we appeal to financial institutions to give us at 5% so we can compete and be able to grow the industry. “Maritime is the future of Nigeria. It’s not oil & gas. Shipping can offer millions of employment. We rely much on importation and exportation, lets now take effective control of the freight. I thank you Greg, and may God bless you and may the ship sail safe “.

Capt Adamu Biu, Former Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council:

“Today is indeed a happy day for most of us in the maritime industry, and our friends and our well wishers. What our friend and colleague, Greg has done is so surprise to us, and every Nigerian whether you are in the shipping industry or not, it doesn’t matter. The truth of the matter is this, like my sister (Mrs Orakwusi) said, this industry is the industry that will take the nation where it wants to go in the future. “For instance, look around the hall, out of every 10 items you see here, 9 of them is imported. How are they coming in? They are coming in by sea. What comes by air is not up to a quarter of what we consume or use in this country. The maritime industry is as strong if not stronger than the oil industry, believe me that is a fact. “Our brother, Greg has taken big risks and has shown tremendous courage to get to where he is now. May God bless him. We also wish that some of us in the industry will take a cue from where he started. “The vessel we are commissioning today is especially going to be used in the coastal trade within our waters. Let us not forget that the shipping industry is not restricted to the coastal waters. We must also venture into foreign ocean-going vessels. We must head that way because that is the way out. But what Starzs has done is in the right direction, and may God Almighty help Starzs “.

Barr Mrs Obiageli Obi, DG Nigerian Chamber of Shipping:

“I just want to tell everyone that am so happy to be here today. This is like a dream come true. It’s like impossibility has been made possible. There is so much talk that we can’t have new vessels, and all of a sudden, it is there in our shores. “Today is one of the greatest days in the history of shipping in Nigeria, that we have such a beauty in our shores, and it belongs to one of us. I want to thank everyone who is part of it, especially Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), thank you. “I want to thank Engr Greg because you have given hope to our seafarers. I thank you everybody here who have come to rejoice and celebrate with us. Thank you all”.

Mrs Hilda Ibifuro Harrison, AIG Zone 4 and Former Commissioner of Police, Ports Authority Police Command Western, (Sister to Engr Greg):

“I am very very happy and delighted that my brother, Engr Greg Ogbeifun started from somewhere, and is here today. I want to thank everyone who has supported him to this height. I think God Almighty, I thank my sister, the warrior of the house, Pastor Mrs Ogbeifun. We thank the great Ogbeifun family of Benin for training such a great son. “Big brother, I want to say that even in your future endeavours, God shall be there for you, and you shall remain fulfilled even at your old age, even older than papa to enjoy the great friuts of your labour. “And to everyone who is here to celebrate with us, God shall also be there to celebrate with you on the day of your celebration. And it shall be well with each and everyone of us. And to my Managing Director (Hadiza Bala Usman), special thanks to you for being there for us. God bless you all”.

Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority:

“I am particularly happy to be here today and have the pleasure to commission this newly acquired vessel, MV Osanyamo this afternoon. This event is another testament of the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari administration to the improvement of Nigerian economy, not just by diversification, but by providing enabling environment for the private sector to invest more in the country. “It is also gratifying to see the commitment of Starzs Marine Limited to the Nigerian content requirements of the federal government, to the extent that it can boast of having 100% competent Nigerian crew in their entire fleet of vessels. This is commendable. “And indeed the ongoing cadetship training of the company is boosting the capacity development of Nigeria to take charge of its maritime sector, which is critical to in-house capacity of any maritime sector in the world. This further aligns with the determination of this administration to develop in-house capacity and permanently put Nigeria on the frontline of global maritime business. “In addition to this, the introduction of MV Osanyamo, has added the in-country capacity for oil exploration and production in Nigeria. The vessel ASD Tug 5114 Model has a primary purpose to assist in tanker lifting alongside FPSOs in the Gulf of Guinea. “As I congratulate Starzs Marine Ltd and Total E & P for this epoch venture, I want to restate the Commitment of NPA to you and indeed to the Nigerian maritime sector that together we can achieve much, and the world will be proud of Nigeria maritime development in the African continent “.

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The Executive Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, at the weekend expressed a sincere desire to see the nation’s capacity building institutions synergize, in the bid to boost employment opportunities and consequently improve the citizens’ present economic conditions.

Governor Obaseki made the observation on Friday in Onne, Rivers State, during the official christening of the nation’s latest addition to the Nigerian ‘fleet’, the MV OSANYAMO, a new built of the STARZS Group , delivered by the Damen Ship Yard.

The Governor stated that with the sad demise of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL), the country lost and had since continued to forfeit several economic and human development opportunities.

“I feel really privileged that I am performing for the first time in my life, the Christening, dedication and commissioning of a vessel, I have never done it before”, he said, describing the shipping terrain in Nigeria, not only as “scary” but also, seriously dominated by foreign operators.

He commended the STARZS Group Chairman, Nigeria’s foremost shipping mogul and Arrowhead of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun for his dedication, commitment and resourcefulness, particularly in mobilizing local funds, institutional supports and utilizing same, in a very challenging environment, in a bid to lift Nigeria’s flag as well as boost the employment opportunities for other Nigerians. “Overtime, the maritime industry, in spite of the supports it had received, such as the Cabotage Law, and the Local Content Law, has continued to be dominated like I said, by foreign companies.

“Apart from the brief spell when we had the NNSL which offered Nigerians sea opportunities, in the maritime industry as we know, just like most other assets, that endeavor failed, and as a country we lost that opportunity to build the human capacity and resources to go ahead to dominate”, the Governor stated.

Obaseki grieved the country’s weak economic position had seriously affected not only the nation’s balance of trade, but devastatingly also, the well-being and the future of the youths.

Concluding, he enjoined the financial sector, the Local Content Board and other institutional bodies to synergize, create more opportunities and ensure a more assured future for Nigerians, particularly in the maritime sector, in the immediate future.

Reported by MaritmeFirst
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Starzs Investment Company Limited (SICL) has recorded another milestone in its quest to boost indigenous shipping with the commissioning of its newbuild tug boat named MV Osanyamo.

The Damen Azimuth Stern Drive Tug 5114 model was commissioned by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, at a colourful ceremony held at the Starzs shipyard in Onne, Rivers State on Friday.

The ASD 5114 model, which is presently the first and largest in the Damen’s ASD tug range to date, is a state-of-the-art tug and highly manoeuvrable vessel fully equipped for offshore operations. The vessel is 52.3 metres long.

It is primarily built to assist in tanker lifting operations alongside FPSOs in the Gulf of Guinea under a contract with Total Exploration & Production Nigeria Limited.

Speaking at the commissioning of the vessel, the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, was full of praises for Starzs.

He said Starzs, being an indigenous company, had succeeded in the nation’s maritime industry, which is largely dominated by foreign players, through the mobilization of domestic resources and utilization of favourable policies of the government.

He expressed optimism that the vessel would help provide the opportunity, which the country lost after the demise of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL), to build indigenous capacity and help the industry play its role in the continent.He said, “I feel so proud to be associated with the success of Starzs. Over time, the maritime industry in spite of the support which it has received, such as the Cabotage law and the local content law has continued to be dominated by foreign companies and our country has continued to lose resources not only in terms of volume of trade but also in balance of trade and employment opportunities.

“Apart from the NNSL, which offered Nigerians the opportunity in the industry, just like most national asset, that endeavour failed and as a country, we lost that opportunity to build the human capacity and the resources required to dominate or play our role in the country.

“Therefore, I am so glad that Starzs with the support of institutions like NPA and local content board are now beginning to lift us as a country to take us to where we should be in the maritime industry in the continent.”

The Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman applauded the company for supporting the Federal Government’s local content drive with the engagement of Nigerian crew on board its vessels. This, she said, would help build the nation’s capacity and put Nigeria on the frontline of global maritime business.

She assured that the present government would continue to provide the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive and invest more in the country.

“It is gratifying to see the commitment of Starzs Investment Limited to the Nigerian content requirement of the Federal Government to the extent that it can boast of a 100 percent Nigerian crew on its entire fleet of vessels.

“The ongoing cadetship training scheme of the company is also building the capacity of our country to take charge of its maritime sector, which is critical to any economy in the world.

“In addition, MV Osanyamo has also added to in-country capacity for oil exploration and production in Nigeria,” she said.

In his contribution, Managing Director, Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Wabote, disclosed that vessel ownership in Nigeria, which was less than 10 percent prior to the enactment of the Nigeria content act in 2010, has recorded 38 percent indigenous ownership in the oil and gas sector.

He noted that the board’s commitment to local content drive moved it to provide the needed assistance to Starsz by being a partial guarantor for the funding. This, he said helped reduce the applicable interest rate on the facility provided by the financing institution.Representative of the Managing Director of Total Exploration and Production Limited, Kenneth Imujoro, expressed confidence that the vessel will bring a new level of safety and operational performance to Total offshore operations even as he expressed the commitment of the company to continue to collaborate with captains of industry to grow indigenous capacity.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of Starzs, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun recalled how the contract for the vessel was won by his company in 2011 after a competitive bidding process, which lasted for two years.

He said despite the challenges faced in assessing fund under the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), the support provided by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and its partner Total Exploration and Production in financing the construction of the vessel made it a reality.

“In Starzs, we have a policy which is focused on development and indigenization of indigenous shipment capacity in all our operations. We therefore decided that our in house seafarers will sail the vessel all the way from China to Nigeria and the vessel arrived our shores on the 1st of June 2018 and more importantly flying the Nigerian flag all the way from China.

“The financing facility was made possible by the Nigerian Content Board who gave partial guarantee for the funding and Total Exploration who supported the financing structure by contributing an advance payment of five percent of the contract value,” he said.

Ogbeifun noted that if appropriate support and encouragement is given to indigenous companies, it would help increase indigenous fleet and gradually eliminate the proliferation of foreign vessels from the nation’s maritime domain.

He added that apart from the company’s focus in developing indigenous human capacity, it is also committed to its corporate social responsibility which is evidence in its scholarship initiative and cadetship training scheme where it currently have 11 cadets on its vessels and seven others who had since graduated and serving as officers on the vessels.

The event was witnessed by several industry stakeholders including the General Manager of INTELS Nigeria Limited, Mr. Silvano Bellinato; the Executive Secretary/CEO of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello; his predecessor, Captain Adamu Biu; and the Chairman, Shipowners Forum, Mrs. Margret Onyema-Orakwusi, among others.

Reported by SHIPS&PORTS
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Industry Experts, Business leaders, genuine entrepreneurs, Head of Government and decision makers in Nigeria will this weekend storm the United Kingdom, as the cream de la cream of the Commonwealth nations assembles in London, to attend the Commonwealth Business Forum 2018 (CBF 2018) which will hold from April 16 – 18, alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Their major task is to brainstorm, find, articulate and proffer solutions and business direction the Commonwealth should pursue in the near future, so as to effectively overcome unfolding global challenges.

Apart from President Muhammadu Buhari and top Government functionaries who are billed for CHOGM, the political front; the experts and gurus from Nigeria who would be at the CBF 2018 would include Nigeria’s foremost shipping mogul and Arrowhead of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun; the Chairman of the Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia; the former Minister of Finance and Chair, Africa Risk Capacity, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala; and the CEO, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Olusegun Awolowo.

Others would include the internet savvy Managing Director of the LADOL, Dr. Amy Jadesimi; the Chairman, Next International, Nigeria, Peter Obi; the CEO, L.A.T Cleveson Group Ltd, Sam Okwulehie; the Group Managing Director (GMD/CEO), PanAfrican Capital Holdings Limited, Chris Oshiafi; the Vice President, Famfa Oil, Folorunso Alakija; and Group CEO, Chimons Gas, Lawrence C Achigbu; as well as the Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Lagos State, Hon Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti amongst others.

Drawing attention to the genuine importance and selflessness of those who would be in attendance, the Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), Lord Marland of Odstock highlighted that not more than 800 persons, from over 50 Commonwealth countries were expected to attend; and provide a beam and a vision for the rapid growth of the economies of both their country and the countries making up the commonwealth.

Consequently, the participants must brainstorm on how the Commonwealth can be significantly strengthened through enduring Prosperity. In other words, ‘How can the Commonwealth lead the world in catalysing growth and championing free and fairer trade’?

One cardinal area where Nigeria would prominently feature is on the issue of ‘Blue Economy and Maritime Industry’, with core participants which include Engr. Greg Ogbeifun and Amy Jadesimi exploring how the Commonwealth can support sustainable blue growth whilst protecting our oceans.

Others who would also actively participate at the Blue topic would also include the Lord Mountevans, Vice-Chairman, Maritime UK; the Hon Ian Borg, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects, Malta; HE Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, Governor, Akwa Ibom State; Lewis Pugh, UN Patron of the Oceans and Andy Thorne, Chairman, Kestrel Group, UK.

Ironically, it could not be confirmed up to this minute, if the local promoter of the Blue Economy in Nigeria, the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) would be directly or indirectly represented. A source at the agency which spoke on condition of anonymity said the NIMASA management may not attend, not just because the event is strictly by invitation, but because the “management is presently preoccupied by other things, outside ‘Blue Economy’.”

Jim Ovia would however join the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture Media to handle‘How Commonwealth businesses can keep ahead and engaged in an era of rapid technological innovation?’, alongside Gavin Starks, Founder, Dgen, UK- Silvio Schembri MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and-Innovation, Malta; Sir Kenneth Olisa, Founder and Chairman, Restoration Partners- & Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, UK; Gerard Grech, CEO, Tech Nation, UK; Neeraj Sahdev, Vice President and Head of Government Business, Wipro, India; Nigel Clifford, Chief Executive, Ordnance Survey UK; Amali de Alwis, CEO, Code First: Girls, UK; James Johns, Independent Digital Policy Advisor, Yardhope Ltd, UK; Alisa Choong, EVP Technical and Competitive IT, Royal Dutch Shell- Kyriacos Kokkinos, Board of Directors, Invest Cyprus.

Peter Obi would join John Williams, Head of Employer Engagement, ACCA UK to find ‘What can the attendees do to encourage SMEs to trade and invest confidently across the Commonwealth’, alongside others which include the Hon Adan Mohamed Cabinet Secretary for Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives,- Kenya The Hon Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister for Industry- & Commerce, Sri Lanka John Carroll, Head of International Business, Santander, UK- Deep Kapuria, Chairman, Hi-Tech Gears Limited, India- Mario Galea, CEO, Malta Enterprise, Malta- Peter Obi, Chairman, Next International, Nigeria- Geetha Muralidhar, Chairman/Managing Director, Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India- Agnes Hugot, Co-Founder, Cite Gestion Pte Ltd, Singapore- Nick Landon, Managing Director, Royal Mail Parcels, UK- Barry Leahey, Managing Director, Playdale, UK.

When Amy Jadesimi will chair the session on ‘How do we move from billions to trillions to help fund the SDGs?’ with others which will include the Commissioner, Business and Sustainable Development Commission- HE Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo President of the Republic of Ghana,- Graham Wrigley, Chairman, CDC Group- Richard Curtis, Founder, Project Everyone, amongst others.

The Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council facilitates trade and investment throughout the 53 states of the Commonwealth and supports private sector companies and governments to promote economic activity, working with member companies, to expand their businesses and to help with new investments in any Commonwealth country.

As you are already aware, the Commonwealth Business Forum is an integral part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and convenes business leaders, industry experts and senior government representatives to debate the issues facing their countries in 2018 and beyond. Organised by the CWEIC, working with the UK Government and in partnership with the City of London, this top-level business gathering is only accessed by accredited invitation and will be held across iconic Central London venues.

Invitations will be extended to a targeted list of 800 of the Commonwealth’s leading businesses who can make a real impact on the debate. A number of Commonwealth Leaders will also be invited, including Muhammadu Buhari GCFR. Please find the Forum flyer and draft programme attached. In your capacity as the President of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria, we would like to invite you to lead a delegation of business leaders from the Nigerian shipping sector to support your country’s participation at the event.

At this stage we would ask that you nominate twenty-five top level CEOs or Chairs and provide us with their names by Wednesday 24 th January. Attendance at the Forum is by invitation only, so once nominations are made and accepted by CWEIC, delegates will receive an official invitation to register their interest in attending the Business Forum. We would also like SOAN to play a key role in the Maritime Session at CBF which is to take place on the 17th of April from 1130 to 1300 at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.

We look forward to working closely with the Shipowners Association of Nigeria over the coming months and look forward to partnering with the organisation beyond this event. Should you have any Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council Marlborough House Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HX

From the Chairman E: Info@cweic.org | T: +44 (0) 20 7747 6189 | W: www.cweic.org queries, please feel free to contact our Head of Business Development Abdul Hamza (abdul@cweic.org).

Thanking you in advance and look forward to seeing you in London soon. Lord Marland of Odstock Direct Tel: +44 (0) 20 7747 6189 E-mail: jonathan@cweic.org

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The new Damen Azimuth Stern Drive Tug 5114 class, is the first of its kind and has departed China on her maiden voyage to Nigeria. Built for Starzs Investments Company Limited (SICL) in Nigeria, the primary purpose of the MV ‘OSANYAMO’ will be to assist in tanker lifting operations alongside FPSOs in the Gulf of Guinea. This will take place under a contract with Total Exploration & Production Nigeria Limited.

The ASD 5114 model is the largest in Damen’s ASD tug range to date. 52.3 metres in length and displacing 800 tonnes, she is a state-of-the-art, highly manoeuvrable vessel fully equipped for offshore operations. Features include 268 square metres of deck space at 5 tonnes load per m², large fuel and fresh water tanks with transfer capabilities and towing winches both fore and aft. Her bollard pull capability is 115 tonnes astern and 110 tonnes ahead.

The double-tier deckhouse provides accommodation for 14 crew and up to 10 passengers built in compliance with the requirements of MLC which came into effect in 2016. Propulsion is via two main ABC16 DZC diesel engines delivering 6,700 kW powering twin kort nozzle thrusters, manufactured by Schottel. Additional capabilities include fire-fighting (FiFi1) and oil recovery operations, with 101 m? of integral oil recovery tanks. MV ‘OSANYAMO’ is also equipped with a dedicated Palfinder water jet driven line handling craft to be utilised for handling hoses and lines for cleaning, inspection and repairs on the aft deck.

The MV ‘OSANYAMO’ will join MV ‘OSAYAME’, a Damen ASD 3211 Tug built at Damen Shipyards, Cape Town, South Africa and delivered in 2009. MV ‘OSAYAME’ has maintained a record of 8years of zero downtime and lost time injury operations. SICL are Ship Owners and Managers, Offshore Marine Services Providers and a Private Maritime Security Provider; who owns and operates a range of vessels including terminal tugs and Security Patrol Vessels.

“We recall going through the design and detailed engineering stage extensively to satisfy the requirements of our Client, to the steel cutting and keel laying phases up to the point we are at today. There is no doubt that this vessel has been constructed to a very high level of quality which is synonymous with Damen Shipyards. The formal handing over of the vessel took place at the signing of the ‘Protocol of Delivery and Acceptance’ ceremony which was witnessed by Mr Andy Holder, the Vice-Chairman of Starzs, together with representatives from the ship builder’s Damen and classification society, Bureau Veritas plus a compliment of Starzs’ crew that will be sailing with the vessel to Nigeria, under The Nigerian flag. We eagerly anticipate her safe delivery to Nigeria to commence operations commented Greg Ogbeifun, Chairman and CEO of Starzs.”

Starzs Investments Company Limited has built a reputation guaranteeing zero down time and zero loss time injury in their operations in the Nigerian Oil & Gas Industry thereby. exceeding her clients’ expectations without compromising safety, reliability and integrity. With a competent workforce both offshore and onshore, the company is contributing significantly to the growth of the Nigerian Maritime Industry in the area of seafarers training and employment, local content development and the Nigerian economy in general.

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Nigerian Maritime Industry stakeholders have noted an upsurge of piracy, hostage taking, and other security challenges within the nation’s water, and urged for Federal Government’s urgent and decisive intervention, towards entrenching sanity in Nigeria’s waterways.

The stakeholders which assembled at the Civic Centre in Lagos, with a patriotic zeal towards significant revamping of the economy also stressed the need for government to make meaningful effort towards the emergence of a National fleet, even as they advised that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) should ensure a speedy implementation of the comprehensive report on Nigeria’s Flag Administration, in the country’s overall interest.

Some of those who attended the stakeholders’ event organized by the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) alongside other critical Stakeholders, with the theme: ‘Giving Critical Lifeline to the Nigerian Maritime Industry’, were the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, who was the Chief Host; the Executive Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki who was the Special Guest of Honour; as well as the highly reputed Executive Chairman of Foresight Limited and Chairman of EICC Brussels, Dr Ravi Mehrotra, who was a Distinguished Guest of Honour.

Other guests included the NIMASA Director-General, Dakuku Peterside; the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shipping Council (NSC), Hassan Bello; as well as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Henry Ikem-Obih, represented by NNPC’s Group General Manager (GGM), Shipping, Aisha Farida Katagum. And an impressive line-up of resource persons which included Mr. Victor Eromosele, Chairman/MD, M E Consulting Limited; Mrs. Mfon Usoro, Secretary General, Abuja MoU on Port State Control; Otunba Shola Folarin, Chairman, Nigerian Port Consultative Council; Mr. Victor Agina, Group Head, Oil and Gas, Bank of Industry, and Mrs. Ifueko Okauru, Managing Partner, Compliance Professionals Plc.

Emphasizing the need to support the Government in its aspiration of creating a buoyant future for the citizens, the stakeholders tasked the NIMASA to make serious effort towards collaborating with operators and other stakeholders in the industry so as to promote a more conducive operating environment, as well as rejig its policy of sponsoring cadets to various institutions outside Nigeria, and instead, focus more on greater utilization of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria in a bid to drive local content development.

“The Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, should urgently pursue the implementation of the comprehensive report on revamping and restructuring Nigeria’s flag administration”; take urgent steps to facilitate access to the CVFF for strategic financial support to vessel owners in order to reverse the slide in cabotage fleet tonnage; while the NIMASA should rethink its policy of acquiring floating docks, and instead pursue efforts towards supporting existing shipyards in the country.

Other points raised in the communiqué issued and signed by the SOAN President, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun and the First Vice President, Dr. Mkgeorge Onyung were:

*That the requirements contained in the Cabotage Act be strictly adhered to in assessing foreign vessels operating in Nigerian waters

*That government should review tax laws and policies applicable to the maritime industry, with a bid to providing necessary reliefs and incentives that would spur growth

*That the Federal Government of Nigeria should urgently consider the inclusion of the maritime sector in the NIPC-FIRS document providing special concessions to selected sectors of the Nigerian economy

*That the Bank of Industry expands its fund catering to the maritime industry in general, and shipowners in specific; and

*Finally, that SOAN adopt a more post-conference strategic engagement approach in dealing with government regarding the attainment of its stated pursuits.

The Participants noted the workshop was part of SOAN’s strategic effort towards providing a veritable platform for meaningful discourse between SOAN’s members and other Stakeholders to chart the best course forward for the Nigerian Maritime Industry. It was also an opportunity for empowerment and direct engagement with Policy makers and regulators especially from government.

The four papers presented by Guest Speakers were on: -Fiscal Incentives for the sustenance and growth of the Nigerian Maritime Industry;

-Leveraging on Government Financial Initiatives;

-The Bank of Industry Initiatives with a focus on the Maritime Industry and

-Performance Audit of Maritime Sector& Ports Terminal Operations (PTO) Compliance

- Project Overview & Work Plan.

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Over 500 Shipping magnates and Maritime experts from all over the world assembled at the weekend in London, to informally brain storm, and chart the way forward, for a brighter and a more vibrant maritime industry.

From the former International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary General IMO, Mr Mitropoulos, the current IMO Secretary General, Mr K. Lim, IMO chieftain, Mr Georges to the Arrowhead of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr Greg Ogbeifun.

Ironically, Ogbeifun who was the only Nigerian in attendance had only a few hours earlier in Abuja, delivered a vital paper towards a successful adoption of New trade terms, aimed at truncating the Free On Board (FOB) lifting of crude oil, in favour of the Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) regime; and the empowering of Nigerian stakeholders in crude lifting.

A Nigerian who witnessed the star-studded event in London, tagged ‘the Winter Barbeque’ hosted by Dr Ravi Mehrotra, said he was specifically impressed by the nation’s representation, stressing that a lot of ideas were being informally baked, while Africa slumbers, only to wake up and cry werewolf when such ideas are being codified into global maritime policies.

“Though informal, if you know what I mean, but it was a huge assembly of ‘who is who’ in global maritime domain; everyone of them, a guru by whatever definitions”, he indicated further, speaking on conditions of strong anonymity.

In Ogbeifun’s Abuja presentation delivered Tuesday, on behalf of the Ministerial Fleet Implementation Committee at the Workshop to review existing framework for the Affreighment of Nigerian crude oil and gas, the SOAN President first dissected the difference between the FOB and CIF terms, in terms of liability and costs associated with successful transit paid by the seller up until the goods are received by the buyer, before proffering expert advice.

“Eighty per cent of oil-producing countries sell their wet cargo on CIF basis”, he indicated, identifying some of the implications of the FOB trade terms as capital flight, as it gives the buyers the option to nominate the vessels that will ship their cargo; Uneven Competition for Nigerian Owned and Registered Vessels, as it keeps the Nigerian owned tanker vessels out of business; and Limitation to Own Tanker Vessels.

The CIF policy on the other hand, would result in the establishment of a Nigerian tanker fleet.

“The CIF policy for petroleum export will encourage the establishment of Nigerian owned and registered fleet of tankers to participate in Nigerian petroleum export as is the case with other oil producing countries such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Angola to name a few.

“Establishing Nigerian tanker fleet is imperative as it opens so many opportunities and creates a ripple effect that will affect the Nigerian economy in diverse ways. The fleet will serve to carry Nigerian and foreign crude thereby opening up a market for Nigeria to lift crude produced in other countries to their various port of destination and earn lots of foreign exchange for the country.

“For example, the Angolan National fleet owns 23 vessels including seven 7 Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) for the carriage of their crude and it is very unfortunate that part of our crude is being carried by the Angola crude tanker fleet.

“The CIF will therefore support business growth of Shipowners in Nigeria in the areas of their income as well as create the much needed employment opportunities and expand the platform for training Nigerian seafarers to International standard.

“This increased business opportunity will naturally lead to investor appetite and subsequent growth in the number of vessels owned by Nigerians, registered in Nigeria and participating in international trade.

“The CIF will massively impact the Nigerian economy positively. It is estimated that the cost to ship a barrel of crude is about $2.50. If the country is producing an average of about 2 million barrels per day, a good percentage of this quantity carried by Nigerian vessels could amount to much by way of income. This will sure have a positive ripple effect on the growth of Nigeria’s economy.

“Nigeria is a major oil exporter and as the world oil supply market is developing, Nigeria will be a market for buyers even in the futuristic term and exporting on CIF terms gives the country reasonable control on its crude oil export earnings as we will be supplying the cargoes on our own tankers thereby giving more accountability, control and monitoring of funds and income.

“Petroleum transactions are usually made in foreign currency mostly in US Dollars. CIF will enhance foreign exchange earnings for the country resulting from the insurance and freight.

“Human Capacity Development”

CIF will make more ships available for training of Nigerian seafarers. It will make more of the idle seafarers to be engaged and productive thereby increasing their skills, knowledge and experience. It will also improve the expertise of Nigerian seafarers for broader employment in the world maritime industry. Job opportunities will be created in related sectors like Chandling, Brokerage, Agency, Maritime Lawyers, Insurance and the Finance sector.

“The growth of Nigeria Crude Tanker Fleet resulting from CIF will inevitably lead to development of appropriate ship repair yards for the dry docking and repair needs of these fleet with their attendant benefit of growing our maritime infrastructure.

“As earlier mentioned, participation of Nigerian vessels in our petroleum export under CIF will grow the Nigerian insurance market, increased economic growth, and job creation in that sector.

“Increased investments in the acquisition of these ships translate to an increased larger fleet that will be registered under the Nigerian flag and also an increase in the country’s national tonnage as more people begin to purchase vessels to carry the readily available cargo. Also the Nigerian flag will soon begin to be recognised internationally.

“This will give Nigeria a stronger presence in the world maritime industry and will place Nigeria in better stead with stronger voice when it comes to international maritime events and competitions”, Engr. Ogbeifun explained further, stressing that if the country has the political will to adopt the CIF, then by all means, the initiative should not be delayed further.

The SOAN President emphasised that decision markers should not be discouraged by the high capital requirement for the establishment of a crude tanker fleet, as well as the skill required for the operations and maintenance of such fleet, stressing that Nigeria is a major oil exporter and as the world oil supply market is developing, it will remain for the foreseeable future, a buyer’s market.

“In view of this, we have to develop a well-articulated strategy for embarking on the venture of establishing a Nigerian Fleet of Crude Export Tankers whether privately owned, or government owned, or through any other arrangement.

“We believe that one way to go about this is an initiative that would consider some joint venture arrangement with a foreign identified partner that is experienced in this business. Such arrangements will be that the management will be jointly done by Nigerian nationals and the foreign technical partners under the NNPC umbrella.

“NNPC’s role would be to guarantee a first right of refusal on price as regarding utilising the Nigerian Fleet Tankers and to pay the freight as per market conditions. Having this guarantee would help the consortium of Nigerian owners and their technical partners to raise bank financing to acquire the required tankers.

“This approach will assist NNPC in maximizing their sale price realisation of crude oil insulated from the seasonal supply and demand price fluctuation. They will only have to pay the prevailing tanker charter rate”, Ogbeifun concluded, indicating his availability for further discussions and active support as the new trade terms policy implementation process, progresses.

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Contrary to its earlier blanket support for the choice of the headship of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), over the weekend, decried NIMASA’s lack luster performance in the just concluded International Maritime Organisation (IMO) council election held in London.

Nigeria had last Friday contested for an IMO Category ‘C’ Seat and failed woefully, coming second from the rear.

At Nigeria’s expense, Egypt, Liberia, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa, and even Kenya coasted home to victory; confirming industry watchers prediction that Nigeria was going to lose, over shoddy preparation, fast depleting tonnage and woeful failure to combat the rising waves of piracy and crimes in the nation’s waters.

Speaking at SOAN end of year dinner in Lagos, the SOAN President, Greg Ogbeifun told the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi to replace the NIMASA management over what he described as gross incompetence.

“The event at the recent IMO elections into Category C of the Council where Nigeria lost and actually came second to the last position underscores the importance and urgency of the theme of this end of the Workshop and Dinner: Giving a Critical Lifeline to the Nigerian Maritime Industry, “Ogbeifun said, stressing that while the country has sacked officials over fraud in the past, no one is presently on record for being relieved of his post, on the account of non-performance, or incompetence.”

He added: “That our flag administration is extremely weak such that the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) which owns a large trading worldwide is unable to register their ships in the Nigerian flag and boost our tonnage. Instead, they have all their ships registered in foreign Flags of Convenience. NLNG actually approached our flag administration to express their desire and preference to register all their ships in Nigeria if the flag administration can be enhanced and reorganised to meet international standards.

“They went further and paid for a Consultant to carry out a study of our Flag Administration and make recommendations to achieve this objective. The report and recommendation have been awaiting implementation by the Maritime Administration since then, over three years ago.

“That the Honorable Minister of Transportation on assumption of office and with promptings from stakeholders, set up a committee to study and make recommendations for the revamping and restructuring of our flag administration to make it more attractive for international patronage. A team of sound professionals worked assiduously to produce a comprehensive report and recommendations to achieve the objective but there has not been the political will to implement the recommendations of that report.

“That our own Maritime Administration, instead of engaging and collaborating with stakeholders, ship-owners, ship-repairers and Maritime Security providers to grow the Industry, they only specialize in collecting levies and revenues and meting out punitive measures on these stakeholders such as ship owners whose arrests, threats to arrest, and shutdown of ship repair yards with the accompanying consequences to the Industry which the International Maritime Communities and the IMO are observing, “he said.

Amaechi however rejected the idea, stressing that SOAN was making the claim because NIMASA, had refused to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), despite the severe toll the non-disbursement was taking on the shipping industry.

“Guess the question I asked Greg when he came back. I said: I hope you will have the stomach to take my reply and he said yes. The issue is that I will not release that fund even if I would be removed tomorrow as the Minister of Transportation.

“Why won’t I release the fund? We gave over N300 billion to owners and business men in Aviation industry; some took N32 billion, N35 billion, and they disappeared! Some took the money to go and build a bank, in Ghana and Sao Tome; and nothing has happened! Nothing!” the Minister indicated, adding “And then he says, (Ogbeifun) fire the man at NIMASA; he should probably add, fire also the Minister!”

Amaechi denied that the IMO election was lost because of NIMASA’s incompetence, but because of other factors, promising that the country would do better in two years’ time, when Nigeria would re-contest for the same IMO Seat.

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The Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) has developed a Cadetship Training Scheme (CTS) to help Nigeria address the challenges of meeting sea-time training, for Nigerian Shipping Development Programme (NSDP) needs.

The scheme, encapsulated by a presentation made by SOAN to the management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) showed a vision anchored on professionalism, thorough training and mentorship, which actually dovetails into broad based progression plan.

“The SOAN initiative reflects our collective commitment as ship owners to addressing the dearth of suitably qualified seafarers for the Nigerian Maritime industry”, SOAN President, Engr Greg Ogbeifun intimated the NIMASA Director General, Dakuku Peterside, as the agency management team listened with rapt attention.

Ogbeifun stressed the sincere confidence of SOAN members to see more cadets of the NIMASA’s pet project, the NSDP obtain the much-needed seaboard training, not only to satisfy their Certificate of Competence (CoC) requirements and fly Nigerian flag, but also to work on foreign vessels and earn the hard currency.

He highlighted that two other African countries had already shown genuine interest to keying into the programme, but the association, fuelled by patriotism has decided to determine the actual need of the country through NIMASA first, before throwing its gates totally opened for the African countries.

He posited that while the Indians are supplying the officers group and Filipinos are supplying the middle level group and ratings, the scheme was meticulously designed to ensure that Nigeria could supply both the officers and ratings perfectly, adding that SOAN also is working towards providing the sea-time at no bigger cost, but essentially that of minimal requirements for the cadets’ food, books, uniforms, medical and such other official requirements.

“Our streets are full of unemployed (NSDP) graduates” Ogbeifun observed, noting that no patriotic Nigerian, particularly the SOAN can continue to fold hands, when Nigeria as a country is on the IMO White List; and can ensure requisite training to provide cadets their OOW certification and subsequently empower them to prudently work both within and outside the country and realize their God given goals.

An elated Agency Boss, Dakuku after sitting through the presentation on the training scheme could not hide his joy.

“I am amazed by the extent of work you have done. I am truly, truly grateful!” he indicated, stressing that the most important reason why the NIMASA exists is because there are ships to regulate.

He commended the SOAN for its un-spared commitment to growing the Nigerian Shipping industry and threw floor open for his executive directors and directors to provide inputs. Their appreciative responses if heard by the cadets presently loafing on the streets could instantly douse their restiveness.

A glimpse in the CTS showed that those who would undergo the seatime would be selected purely on merit, following a written exams, after which the successful ones would go through oral interview, and medical tests including tuberculosis tests.

The cadets would thereafter be on board for at least a 12 month duration; during which each would be rotated on different IMO approved vessels, to ensure that they acquire different operational learning experiences, under different team members, anchored to different International Oil Companies, that SOAN members presently work with.

The scheme formalised a mentorship programme which ensures that Chiefs, Engineers and other Seniors onboard are assigned to properly monitor each cadet’s practical progress and competence development; with the ultimate goal of producing a totally equipped officer, after graduating from the Cadetship scheme.

Asked for comment, a NIMASA Director who spoke on conditions of anonymity lauded the initiative, noting that it was something the agency should have crafted, but actually was yet to think of.

“It’s like some people are thinking for us. And they are doing it in very positive manner”, the Director explained further.

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The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, has overturned the five-year conviction of a former Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Director-General, Temisan Raymond Omatseye for alleged N1.5billion contract scam.

The court set aside the May 20, 2016 judgment of Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia which convicted Omatseye on a 27- count charge bordering on bid rigging and contract splitting.

It held, among others, that the trial court did not properly evaluate the evidence.

Justice Yagata Nimpar, who read the judgment, admonished the prosecution not to “ride roughshod over the Constitution.”

She said: “The long and short of it is that, the appeal succeeds.

“The judiciary will do the war on corruption more harm by declaring someone a criminal, where no offence has been committed.

“I find merit in the appeal. The he conviction is hereby set aside and the appellant is hereby discharged and acquitted.”

The appellant’s family and kinsmen, who were at the court in their numbers, erupted in jubilation after the judgment was delivered.

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has charged members of Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) to take over operations in the downstream sector of the oil and gas sector.

Speaking to shipowners at the inauguration of the newly-elected SOAN’s executives in Lagos, the group managing director of the NNPC, Mr Maikanti Baru, asked indigenous shipowners to invest in bigger tanker vessels of up to 30,000 metric tonnes.

Baru, who was represented by the general manager, Commercial Shipping of NNPC, Ibrahim Lami, observed that most Nigerian shipowners participate only in the upstream sector of the oil and gas while the downstream is controlled mostly by foreigners.

He charged the SOAN members to take the job from the foreigners by striving to bring in vessels that can transport the 35 million litres of fuel consumed daily by Nigerians.

He said, “Most of the SOAN members operate in the upstream sector of our oil and gas industry, they happen to be the owners of all the vessels that operate with our international oil companies. So I started asking myself what is happening in the downstream where we have our coastal tankers where we try to supply the 35 million litres that Nigerians consume every day?

“Out of the 35 million litres, only five million litres are produced in the country because our three refineries are still operating below capacity. So what happens to the 30 million litres remaining? We import everything. When we import, most of the import vessels cannot even berth at our port, the best among them only come to the Apapa port. For the remaining ones, we have to take our coastal vessels to trans-ship them and bring them to Apapa, Tin can Island, Calabar, Port Harcourt, and Warri.

“Most of these vessels are owned by foreigners, with Nigerians only acting as agents. So I throw this ball at this inauguration for the executives to do something about it. If you cannot bring on a vessel of 30,000mt dwt, at least you can bring in 15,0000mt dwt so that we can sail them into Warri, Calabar, and Port Harcourt,” he said.

Also speaking at the inauguration, the director-general of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, who was represented by the executive director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Gambo Ahmed, said that the agency is working hard to ensure the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessels Finance Fund (CVFF) to the SOAN members.

While acknowledging that the SOAN, under its president, Mr Greg Ogbeifun, is in good hands, Peterside said that “when you see shipowners like these, the first thing that comes to your mind is the CVFF. We at the NIMASA have received knocks from so many corners, the view outside is that the NIMASA is not doing much, but inside we are doing everything possible to make it work,” he said.

Ogbeifun assured that the new executive will continue to encourage strategic engagements with relevant stakeholders to bring about the harmonisation and growth of the sector.

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The Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) President and Chief Executive Officer of the Starzs Group, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun stepped into a second tenure mandate on Tuesday afternoon with a pledge to harness the expertise of industry operator, particularly the ship-owners and the strength of the Government agencies, particularly the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and the NNPC, to boost the economy and generate fresh employment opportunities for the youths.

The Arrowhead who was unanimously re-elected in a peaceful and totally transparent atmosphere chaperoned by journalists and witnessed by staffers of NIMASA, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron and Niger dock; said he sees his re-election as a further call to service; thanking stakeholders present not only for their physical presence, but for the supports he expects them to offer SOAN, in the overall interest of Nigerian youths.

He assured that SOAN would leave no stones unturned, to adequately equip the Nigerian cadets, whether trained at the MAN, Oron or educated abroad by various foreign institutions.

“The shipping industry needs them. We need them. Without them, there will be no enviable future for the nation’s shipping industry. So we are going to crystalize a strategy of articulating all our vessels and make them available for the training of the (Nigerian) cadets; working in full collaboration with NIMASA and of course, with the Maritime Academy of Nigeria Oron; as well as other Maritime institutions in the country, to see that the standard maintained is global”, he said.

He was particularly happy with the presence of the relevant stakeholders, pointing out that the SOAN Technical Committee was now availed of the opportunity to initiate a seamstress communication with the Niger dock while the Capacity Building Committee would do the same with NIMASA.

Taking a hard look at the port and the Cabotage Act, he lauded the spirit and the intent behind the enactment, even as he highlighted the need to review some aspects of the law.

“The Cabotage Act itself is good, but it needs to be reviewed to sharpen it and revitalize it, so as to make it achieve the purpose for which it was created’’, the SOAN President stated, warning that while the while the desire by Nigerians to control the over-domineering presence of the foreign vessels operators was good, it may nonetheless, remain an empty din and a mirage, if Nigerians do not first adopt measures that would ensure the availability of local but standard assets as worthy alternatives.

“We must help the indigenous operators (Nigerians) to grow capacity in all areas, so that they can tackle any nature of job’’, he observed, stressing that whatever was an observed aspects of the implementation of the Cabotage Act would be rectified by the Dakuku Peterside administration.

‘’So, in summary, Cabortage hasn’t done very well. But we believe the new initiative of the new administration of that Agency will see us into a brighter future’’.

Highlighting industry challenges, he lauded ship owners, their determination, dexterity and altruistic desires to assist Government realize its dreams, in spite of the pronounced odds exacerbated by paucity of funds which had constantly handicapped indigenous initiatives from playing on a level field with foreigners with unlimited access to funds.

He however frowned on a situation where operators pay multiple taxes, and even so in foreign currencies, stressing a need for a single window that would ensure that all the relevant agencies saddled with the tasks of inspections and drawing levies or taxes could do it at the same time; while describing as contentious, the idea of Nigerians having to pay dues in Dollars!

Engr. Ogbeifun however drew laughter when asked why he approximated the vessels of SOAN members at 100, when some industry watchers opined it was 30?

Positing the question as mere belly aching, Ogbeifun said his facts could be verified.

‘’Between the C&I Leasing and Petro-marine, they have more than 30 vessels. I am talking of just these two; then Lamnaco. Afri-delta has not fewer than 25 vessels. These are facts. So, anybody who wants to belly ache can belly ache!

‘’If he NIMASA didn’t think there was something authentic about us they wouldn’t have come with such a powerful delegation to interact with us. And even if it is NINMASA that says we have only 10 vessels, it means the agency still reposed implicitly sufficient confidence in those 10 vessels’’, he stated further, stressing that while the membership was presently about 30, only 17 were duly accredited to vote.

‘’Nigeria has a population of about 200 million, yet, only about 45 per cent of the people voted. It is by accreditation, it is only those who were accredited that voted’’, Ogbeifun concluded.

It will be recalled that the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) on Tuesday, reelected the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of STARZS Group, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun as President, for a second term of another two years.

Other officers also elected in the general election which held at the Avenues Suites Hotel, Lagos, were Dr. MkGeorge Onyung, 1st Vice President; Mr. Alfred Okoigun, 2nd Vice President; Mr. Eno J. Williams, Financial Secretary / Treasurer; and the Mr. Sonny Eja, who was elected the Chairman Ethnics & Privileges Committee.

Also elected today was Mr. Nnamdi Obiagwu, as Chairman Finance and Membership Committee; Engr. Lucky Akhiwu as Chairman Technical Committee; while Mr. Joseph Awodeha was elected as the Chairman, Training and Capacity Building Committee.

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The President of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Utomwen Ogbeifun has urged core industry stakeholders, particularly the SOAN’s members to brace up for a more challenging 2017, stressing that the year, in spite of the perceived odds, would no doubt channel prosperity to Nigeria.

Ogbeifun made the observation in his New Year message, emphasizing that stakeholders must explore new “avenues to diversify”, and overcome prevailing economic challenges.

“The dramatic fall in crude oil price which has gravely affected businesses in the Oil and Gas sector, has taken its toll on the business of our members. Most of our vessels are now laid up without jobs and the few vessels still engaged are working for such low charter rates that many owners can barely break even. It is necessary for us to look for avenues to diversify our business interests”, the Arrowhead, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun indicated, expressing a strong belief that the country has a sufficient reservoir of knowledge, expertise and resources to lift Nigeria out of the wood, in no time.

It is my belief that collectively we have gained substantial knowledge, experience and expertise in ship ownership, management and operations such that we can explore how to deploy these expertise in participating in the Crude Oil Tanker Fleet being encouraged by the industry and government as strongly highlighted in the paper presented by the Group Managing Director of NNPC at our gala night”, he stated, noting the need to start consolidating on the gains of the group’s Cadetship Training Berths Scheme launched by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on November 30th, 2016 in Lagos.

“The impact of the inauguration of the Cadetship Training Berths scheme has generated a lot of interest such that SOAN is now being approached by various organisations and individuals requesting for their candidates to be given a place in this scheme for sea time training and these applicants have expressed their willingness to pay for such opportunities on our vessels.

“As we know, the importance of training these cadets cannot be over emphasized, as we are the ultimate beneficiaries from this scheme since they would end up as well-trained officers to provide the much needed personnel to man our vessels. Even vessels that are not working but are manned whilst waiting for job opportunities can have cadets on board and their time on such vessels will still count towards their Sea Time eligibility”, he highlighted, calling attention to positive results the scheme had begun to attract.

“One of the IOCs has indicated their willingness and desire, working with SOAN, to support vessel owners in the training of our Tug Masters and Chief Officers in institution that carryout Simulation Trainings such as Charkin Maritime and Offshore Training Centre and PEM Offshore.

“They have also indicated that some of the trainings could be carried out in Holland and would be sponsored by the IOC. They are waiting on us to develop this initiative further.

“The management of Nigerdock has also approached SOAN that they would like to meet with us to explore areas of mutual benefits in the New Year. This opportunity may enable us negotiate a special discount for our members who may wish to patronize Nigerdock for dry dock and repair jobs on our members’ vessels.

“As you know, during the gala event, in my welcome address I made a request to the Lagos State government for land to be allocated to SOAN to build the SOAN Centre. The representative of the Governor in his response advised that we send a formal letter requesting for the land allocation. We have already submitted the request letter to him and this would need to be followed up”, Ogbeifun also said, explaining that what was now immediately needed, is for group’s organized workshops on relevant issues.

“There is now a need for us to organise workshops to address issues affecting members and their business. There are a lot of statutory requirements by various authorities and agencies which such workshops will assist members in complying with the following: the MLC Act and Seafarers Condition of Service; and the Requirements of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC).

“The stage is now set for SOAN to engage the IOCs and other critical stakeholders to deliberate on matters that affect Members going forward. Members would be required to come up with issues affecting us and our businesses so we can engage appropriately in the interest of Members.

“From the foregoing, it will be necessary for us to establish committees that will develop the various issues identified above and provide solutions to them. All members of the association should be encouraged to belong to one committee or the other”, he further observed, reiterating his pledged commitment to the highest “standard of financial discipline and accountability”, as demonstrated by a timely release of SOAN’s Audited Financial report for 2015/2016 Financial Year.

“There is need for all members to regularize their membership yearly by paying the annual dues as soon as practicable to keep the association running. Membership cards will be issued to financial members. We intend to identify and discuss with critical service providers in various areas such as hotels, airlines, shops and other market outlets with a view to negotiating discounts for SOAN card carrying members.

“As you are aware, the tenure of the present Exco for which I am President ends on the 31st of March 2017, by which time our Constitution requires that a general elections be held and a new Exco formed.

“In view of this, a Returning Officer will need to be appointed at the next general meeting expected to hold in the last week of January 2017 to co-ordinate the election which I suggest should hold in the last week of February 2017. It will be necessary to review the current offices constituting the Exco, learning from the experiences in the last couple of years, to more effectively run the association.

“From our experience, there is need to restructure the Exco to better position the Association to manage the inevitable growth opportunities facing SOAN”, Engr Ogbeifun concluded, lauding industry stakeholders for their determined goals of overcoming the present challenges, while tasking SOAN members to go the extra mile needed, to timely transform the country into an enviable, vibrant and prosperous Nation!

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Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) at the weekend expressed its sincere and most genuine appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari, over the appointment of one of its chieftains, SOAN’s Downstream Coordinator, Mina Oforiokuma, into the Nigerian Local Content Board.

The SOAN President, Engr Greg Utomwen Ogbeifun who gave the commendation, also indicated that the gesture to SOAN symbolizes a recognition of the Group’s Selfless commitment to the cause of growing the industry, generating huge employment and assisting the Government grow revenue.

He identified the local content body as a critical platform which all Shipowners in Nigeria needed to keep a seamless communication and understanding with, hence, SOAN’s genuine appreciation.

“We are grateful. Honestly, we are grateful”, the SOAN President stated, noting the Nigerian Local Content as “one of our major challenges”, towards making the body understand the vision of Government, in the setting up of the body.

It is incisive that SOAN is presently the only shipping association which compels members to meet all Government’s tax demands as at when due.

It has also developed a “100 Cadets Training Berth Scheme”, which is to be inaugurated this Wednesday, 30th November, 2016 by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi at Eko Hotels and Suites, a platform that would provide Nigerian cadets the desired sea-time exposure, free of charge.

Meanwhile, SOAN members last week humbled its President, Engr Greg Ogbeifun with encomiums, as news broke that the MV OSANYAMO, the latest addition to the STARZS Group has begun sea trials, a final stage of the new built, before setting sail, for Nigeria.

The brief event occurred as a ‘meeting within a meeting’. The members had brainstormed for hours and being worn out called for a break. Shortly after, the most valued drinks of the most Diligent began to pop; flagging off a short ceremony, during which members, separately and distinctly poured encomiums, one after the other, on the Arrowhead, dotting on his Selflessness, dedicated commitment and enviable vision!

The MV OSANYAMO is expected to arrive Nigeria, early next year.

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The largest model yet in the Damen ASD tug range

The first of the new Damen Azimuth Stern Drive Tug 5114 class is ready for sea trials on the Yangtze River from the 14th to 18th November 2016 in China. Built for Starzs Investments Company Limited (SICL) in Nigeria, the primary purpose of the MV OSANYAMO will be to assist in tanker lifting operations alongside FPSOs in the Gulf of Guinea. This will take place under a contract with Total E&P Nigeria Limited.

The ASD 5114 model is the largest in Damen’s ASD tug range to date. 52.3 metres in length and displacing 800 tonnes, she is a state-of-the-art, highly manoeuvrable vessel fully equipped for offshore operations. Features include 268 square metres of deck space at 5 tonnes load per m², large fuel and fresh water tanks with transfer capabilities and towing winches both fore and aft. Her bollard pull capability will be up to 90 tonnes astern and 100 tonnes ahead.

The double-tier deckhouse provides accommodation for 14 crew and up to 10 passengers. Propulsion is via two main diesel engines powering twin nozzles designed and built by Damen Marine Components. Additional capabilities include fire-fighting (FiFi1) and oil recovery operations, with 101 m? of integral oil recovery tanks. She is also equipped to handle hoses and lines for cleaning, inspection and repairs on the aft deck.

The MV OSANYAMO will join MV OSAYAME, a Damen ASD Tug 3211 built at Damen Shipyards Cape Town, South Africa and delivered in 2009 and has maintained a record of 5years of no downtime and loss time injury operations. As Shipowners and Managers, Offshore Marine Services Providers and a Private Maritime Security Provider; SICL owns and operates a range of vessels including terminal tugs, Security Patrol Vessels and OSVs. The ASD Tug 5114 began construction in June 2015 and was launched into water in June 2016. Delivery of the vessel will be in December 2016.

“We recall going through the design and detailed engineering stage to the steel cutting and keel laying phase up to the point we are today. At our last technical visit to the shipyard to inspect the vessel, we were impressed at the quality and progress of work. We are getting set for sea trials and we eagerly anticipate her safe delivery to Nigeria to commence operation.”

Starzs investments Company Limited has built a reputation guaranteeing zero down time and loss time injury operations in the Nigerian Maritime Industry. With a competent workforce both offshore and ashore, the company is contributing significantly to the growth of the Nigerian Maritime industry while constantly exceeding her clients expectations without compromising safety, reliability and integrity in all her operations.

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Nigeria joined the International Maritime world as the global community brainstormed on topical issues, including assisting the Maltese authorities and people evolve a stronger and more dynamic Maritime industry.

A very first ever Malta Maritime Summit, the four- day event, holding between the 3rd and the 6th October 2016, at the prestigious Hotel Excelsior Valletta, consisting of ‘Who is Who’ in global shipping and maritime operations is aimed at stimulating as much debate as possible between both the speakers/panelists among themselves as well as with the delegates.

Consequently, the moderator of each session was enjoined to encourage a wholly interactive sessions, complimented by brief introduction of topics, while involving as much audience participation as possible.

Nigeria would however take the center stage tomorrow, when Engr. Greg Ogbeifun would be dissecting issues bordering on ‘Development of Environment Friendly Ships’ and later on, ‘Developments in Ports to Cater for Innovative Ships’.

It was leant that only the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) and it’s leadership is currently attending the unique event, especially as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency [NIMASA], who presence was similarly required, was conspicuously missing.

While we await the details of the development at the Summit, the Maritime First may authoritatively indicate that some of the dignitaries at the event, apart from the SOAN team led by its Arrowhead, Ogbeifun are also, Hon. Joe Mizzi, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure of Malta; Hon. Edward Sci clung, the Minister of Finance of Malta and of course, the Secretary General- International Maritime Organisation (IMO), H.E. Kitack Lim: the Hon. Marios Demetriadis, Minister of Transport, Communications and Works of Cyprus; Mr. Fotis Karamitsos, Deputy Director General (acting), European Commission; and Mr. Peter Hinchliffe, the Secretary General, International Chamber of Shipping.

Also in attendance is Mr. Markku Mylly, the Executive Director EMSA; Prof. Yannis Maniatis, the Former Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change; Mr. Ravi K. Mehrotra, who is the Founder and Executive Chai Yannis Maniatis, Former Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change.

Equally in attendance is Mr. Ravi K. Mehrotra, the Founder and Executive Chairman of Foresight Ltd; Dr. Anil Sharman, President and Chief Executive Officer of GMS; Mr. Emanuele Grimaldi, Managing Director Grimaldi Group; Mr. Heiko Kunst, Policy Officer European DG Clima; Prof. Simone Borg, the Maltese Ambassador on Climate Change; Mr. Robert Yuksel Yildirim, the President and CEO Yildirim Holdings; and Mr. George Procopiou, Founder and Executive Chairman DYNACOM.

The long list of ‘Who is Who’ also included Ms. Anna Maria Darmanin, Secretary General European Tug Owners Association; Mr. Mauro Renaldi a Maritime Consultant; Mr. Joseph Calleja, General Manager Palumbo, Malta;Maritime Consultant, Mr. Mauro; Renaldi, and General Manager Palumbo, Malta, Mr. Joseph Calleja, amongst others.

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Efforts to subdue the nation’s economic recession through maritime initiatives got a boost this week in London as the Federal Government, propelled by Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) presented facts towards wooing the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) and other international investors to the timeliness of directing investments to Nigeria.

The Maritime First exclusively reported that the big-players’ Autumn Conference would hold at the Marlborough House, consequentially “to galvanize the Commonwealth Maritime sector” and “encourage cooperation and discussion in the maritime commercial sector, facilitate partnerships between maritime based businesses and attract investments which will benefit Commonwealth maritime hubs, with an initial focus on Nigeria”

“It was awesomely successful”, disclosed a Senior official from the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT) on conditions of anonymity, noting that the key actors, comprising of the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council, Barrister Hassan Bello, the FMOT Permanent Secretary, Mr. Sabiu Zakari, and the SOAN Arrowhead, Engr Greg Ogbeifun all worked as a remarkable team, fully backed by the Nigerian Alternate Rep to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Bala Dikko.

The conference, the official noted further, actually enabled the country to showcase its investment opportunities in the maritime sector, showing Maritime as a credible driver of economic growth while outlining some of the challenges which are currently faced as a dynamic industry.

It would be recalled that the Conference Chairman, Lord Marland of Odstock had noted that Nigeria, with a population of about 173 million people and a status of the largest market in Africa, was strategically important to receive such attention.

“With a population of about 173 million people, Nigeria is the largest country and accounts for 47 percent of West Africa’s population. GDP is estimated to have grown by 6.1 percent owing to continued strong performance mainly in services, but also industry and agriculture. Maritime in Nigeria has the potential to play a significant role in economic development and trade expansion”, the Conference Chairman further indicated, noting the special and determined commitment of SOAN leadership’s altruistic efforts in swaying the CWEIC’s attention to Nigeria.

“Greg Ogbeifun, on behalf of SOAN, has made a strong case for the maritime industry in Nigeria to play a key role in driving growth and economic diversity and I am delighted that he has agreed to Chair the conference in his capacity as Chair of the CMI and SOAN.

Those in attendance included the representatives of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the UK Hydrography Office, London Shipping Week, Maritime London, City of London, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), and the Confederation of Indian Industry, among several other strategic stakeholders.

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The Arrowhead of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) and Chief Executive Officer of the STARZS Group, Engr. Greg Utomwen Ogbeifun has been honored by All Africa Students Union (AASU), with the African Leadership Award, for his exemplary and altruistic visions for the youths.

The AASU (PAN-AFRICAINE DES ETUDIANTS) is a Continental representative organization of democratic students’ unions founded in 1972 at University of Science and Technology, Kumasi Ghana with 54 member unions from Francophone and Anglophone African countries.

An affiliate of the International Union of Students (IUS),the body indicated that the award was sequel to “good recommendations” made by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) nominating Ogbeifun, for the “2015 Africa Leadership Award” as “Beacon of Hope for Africa’s Development.”

“We are glad to inform you of your ratification by the congress of AASU for the conferment of the “2015 Africa Leadership Award” and your subsequent induction into the AASU Hall of Fame”, the Continental body with a a consultative status with UNESCO, ECOSOC, UNICEF, ECOWAS, and the African Union stated in its letter signed by its Secretary Général Awaah Fred. Revered for its impeccable and stringent selection process, the AASU was in July 2006, hosted by the then President Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria, South Africa where the former President of Nigeria Dr. Jonathan Goodluck and former Governor of Nassarawa State, Nigeria (Alh. Abdullahi Adamu) represented former President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria to receive this prestigious honour.

In 2008, at the Koffi Annan Conference Centre, Osu, Accra, Ghana President John Kuffour alongside Governors Ikedi Ohakim and Emmanuel Uduaghan of Imo and Delta States of Nigeria were amongst recipients of the 2008 Kwame Nkrumah Leadership Award Series.

The body prides itself on the fact that it only bestows awards, on “eminent sons and daughters, institutions, and corporate concerns of African origin, who have distinguished themselves in their various fields of endeavour”.

“Bearing in mind that Africa is presently faced with the challenges of leadership; the aim of the Honor, awarded every year by AASU, is to promote all forms of action of good leadership designed to “construct the defenses of African culture of leadership and integrity in minds of men” by rewarding particular outstanding leaders with vision towards the upliftment of Africa, with the purpose of serving as role model for younger generation in line with the constitution and charter of AASU in the spirit of Pan-Africanism.

While congratulating him for the exceptional honour, AASU stressed that the award/ induction into its Hall of Fame, essentially wishes “to encourage and motivate” Ogbeifun to higher excellence, taking holistic cognizance of his past and present dexterous achievements as an “administrator of monumental credibility”, and a “defender of democracy”, especially his immutable role in the upliftment of education, promotion of accountability, and as an advocate of youth skills acquisition, youth empowerment, grass root development and egalitarianism. “Worthy of our encomium is your track record of altruistically placing masses welfare at the fore of your leadership drive and aspirations which has led to improved productivity and wealth/employment creation in your country – Nigeria and Africa at large.

“This is a monumental honour of dignity for outstanding commitment, dedication and inspirational leadership. It involves the receipt of the Africa Leadership Award plaque, as well as name entry into a commemorative panel that will be placed at AASU Secretariat’s 21st century gallery of achievements Hall of Fame. The term “Hall of Fame” denotes creativity, enterprise and exceptionality.

“There are very few persons and organizations in the world who can claim entry into a Hall of Fame. The substantial Medallion of Ribbon Style commemorative plaque, chosen just for the occasion is a symbol of such a profound announcement. Its five star international headline and rich appearance demands attention”, the Continental body, accredited with UNCCD and enjoys a cordial working relationship with the UN System concluded.

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Nigeria is currently facing economic crisis that has impacted negatively on trade. The crises are from different fronts. The poor returns from crude oil sales are being worsened by the Niger-Delta militancy with pipelines being destroyed on regular basis in recent time. With depleted foreign reserve, international trade is no longer what it used to be for Nigerian businessmen. The effect is that importers of trade goods under the 41-items list have to source foreign exchange from the black market or anyhow to remain in trade. Even manufacturers who enjoy government patronage and are covered by the banks in sales of foreign exchange are not left out. With the fluctuation of foreign exchange rate and calculation of import duties on the prevailing market rate, business is also no longer easy for anyone, including consumers who have to pay for goods at exorbitant prices.

Shipping Trade and GSF

Beyond the sad scenario painted above is yet a major challenge posed by international shipping agencies in the name of liner conferences who are bent on profit maximisation. Members of the liner conferences who are mainly shipowners impose various surcharges on shippers. This issue is again worsened by the service providers at various local countries, including Nigeria, where other surcharges of similar nomenclature are imposed on shippers. The various challenges have been a major concern for every country involved in international trade. Worried about this trend, members of the Global Shippers Forum, GSF, recently met in Colombo, Sri-Lanka to discuss the issue and proffer solutions. GSF represents shippers’ interests drawn from respective organisations of Asia, Europe, North and South America and Africa. The main focus of the GSF is to facilitate trade by ensuring that international freight, policy decisions of governments and international organisations as they affect shippers and receivers of freight are affordable. GSF is dominated by shippers’ councils of every maritime nation, including African Shippers Forum, ASF, led by Dr. Emmanuel Kofi Mbiah, who is also the Managing Director of Ghana Shippers’ Authority, GSA.

At this year’s conference in Colombo, Nigeria was represented by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC. Other African maritime nations were also represented by their shippers’ councils. Among the reasons why Nigeria and other African nations joined GSF was mainly to ensure that their shippers are saved from some shylock liner conferences who would take advantage of any situation to impose illegal surcharges on traders. Many times, the NSC had reached out to interest groups using its influence in the Forum to resolve cases affecting Nigeria’s trading interest. This has often checked the gang up against Nigeria on several claims of terrorism, piracy, armed attacks on ships or what is happening in the Gulf of Guinea, or Niger Delta, to raise high charges on shipment to Nigeria by liner conferences of different continents.

With very strong global platform, the Forum has a lot of influence in addressing issues affecting shippers economically. With strong influence in the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, liner conferences of various continents, the Forum has impacted positively in addressing issues affecting trade facilitation globally. For each country’s Shippers’ Council, the Global Forum can take up any issue affecting trade, no matter where the problem is coming from, either from the exporting country, liner conference, shipowner or the shipping company and resolve. Each country’s Shipper’s Council as a member of the Forum enjoys such privilege to resolve trade disputes which affect a group or groups of shippers of any country. For the NSC as an economic regulator, the GSF is like the International Maritime Organisation, IMO. GSF plays an important apex role that is beneficial as it is protective of shippers globally in what the Council stands for in relation to Nigerian shippers who are involved in trade all over the world. A director with the NSC, Azuka Ogo, explains that the Council has remained a member of the Forum to be able to champion international trade interests affecting individual shippers or the nation in her trade interests.

Illegal Surcharges and GSF intervention

At the GSF meeting in Colombo, Sri-Lanka, recently, it was clear that trade issues were the same in most trading countries. The concerns raised by members, including Hongkong, Nigeria, Ghana, among others, were on surcharges and terminal handling charges by both shipping lines and terminal operators. The worry was that these surcharges and terminal handling charges by shipping lines and terminal operators in various countries have impacted negatively on international trade. In Asia-Europe, the concerns of shippers were that surcharges made them to exceed contracted prices for shipments. This, they complained makes management of total shipping costs unpredictable for the owners of cargo.

Other participants expressed worry that what was more annoying was that the illegal charges cannot be substantiated by the service providers. For Honk Kong, the shippers were not left out. The Hong Kong Shippers’ Council executive director, Mr Sunny Ho, described the terminal handling charge in his country as the highest in the world. Hu identified other charges as Amendment for the Manifest which he said has risen to $250. He also said documentation charge has nearly doubled in recent time. He also criticised the freight forwarders, saying that it was unfortunate that they have been left unchecked. The story was the same for shippers from the West and Central African countries who were at the conference. Nigeria, Ghana, Republic of Benin, Cameroun, among others who were represented by the Shippers’ councils had similar stories to tell.

Nigeria’s Head of delegation to the Forum, Azuka Ogo, a lawyer and Director with the NSC, gave an account of the various efforts by the Council to check terminal operators and shipping lines in Nigeria from introducing unapproved charges. She told the Forum the terminal operators and shipping lines in Nigeria took the Council to court as a result of its decision to stop some of the charges introduced by them. She argued that the Shipping Line Agency Charges, SLAC which is one of the charges in contest does not relate to any service, adding that some of the illegal charges were responsible for the diversion of cargoes meant for Nigeria to neigbouring countries. Ogo also said that the service providers have also joined other top Nigerian government officials in the court action. She told the GSF that Nigeria had recently in an effort to bring about efficiency in the ports system launched the Standard Operating Standards, SOPs, involving every agency of government and all providers and consumers of shipping services.

Ogo also disclosed that Nigeria equally launched the Port Service Support Portal (PSSP) to check corruption and other unwholesome practices by service providers at the nations’ ports, explaining that the PSSP is portal where any agency or shipper/individual can send their complaints to be addressed by the Nigerian Shippers Council. President, Shippers Association Lago State, Rev. Jonathan Nicol who also attended the meeting said the activities of the providers of shipping services have impacted negatively on trade. He said that while the big multinational agencies observe trade laws in other countries, they have deliberately remained different in Nigeria.

Nicol said Nigeria has as a result of high cost of doing business in its ports and illegal charges traced to the service providers lost about 70 percent of her cargo to neigbouring countries. He accused the service providers of deliberately frustrating the NSC as a regulator in the system to render the Council impotent.

Nicol urged the GSF to continue with its campaign to end sharp practices affecting trade all over the world , particularly in West and Central African sub-region. He called on the GSF to invite some of the affected companies to a roundtable where they can be told to be fair and transparent in their trade.

Chairman, Union of African Shippers’ Council, Dr Emmanuel Kofi Mbiah, in his contribution identified port congestion surcharge and terminal handling charge in his country as unjustifiable. Mbiah said the terminal handing charge was between $140 and $155, adding that the terminal handling charges do not apply in any of the charges being imposed by the service providers. He disclosed that charges were simply being introduced as a response to slump in shipping trade.

Resolution on Surcharges

At the last Annual General Meeting, AGM, the GSF took far-reaching decisions as part of the efforts to check conference liners and terminal operators from introducing illegal surcharges. Some of the decisions remained confidential among members. But part of the decisions was to seek the intervention of the World Trade Organisation, WTO and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD. The GSF strongly believes that both UNCTAD which is a principal organ of the United Nations General Assembly dealing with trade, investment, and development issues and WTO have a diplomatic way in which they can compel international shipping lines and terminal operators to put an end to illegal charges in various countries. In China, it was reported during the GSF meeting that shipping lines have cancelled some of the charges as a result government intervention. GSF used the opportunity of this development to appeal to governments of member states to join in making strong moves to stamp out illegal surcharges because of the negative effect on world trade and consumers.

The Secretary General of GSF, Mr Chris Welsh, had described the various illegal charges as causing a sense of frustration and anger among members. He said it was the determination of the GSF to end the imposition of such surcharges on shippers by 2020 through a series of actions which will expose the scale and injustice of the practice to world trade bodies. Welsh said, “our campaign will expose the extent of surcharging and make it an issue in future trading agreements. We are determined to end these practices and restore visibility to shipping rates and confidence to shippers.”

Benefits to Nigerian Shippers

President of the Rivers/Bayelsa Shippers’ Association, Mr Udofia Ofon, who spoke on the benefit of the meeting said it will help Nigeria to maintain international best practices in the shipping industry. Udofia added that being a part of GSF will help Nigeria to know what is happening in other countries. He added “ It will help us to encourage healthy competition and ensure that our shippers are not been side-lined in international environment. It is good that we are part of it and am even happy that Nigerian Shippers’ Council is a signatory to all their laws”.

Ogo told this writer that by attending the meeting said the Council wants to strengthen the bargaining power of Nigerian shippers at all times with shipping lines. She added, “It means that the consumer will be protected because shippers will pay for services actually delivered not just padded b headings. The shippers have a right to say , fine, if am going to pay XYZ amount, what is it for?”. She added, “Also , charges have to be reasonable. You pay for actual services and it must be commensurate with the service delivered not just anything released by the shipping lines”.

She said by bringing Nigeria’s case to the GSF, the Forum can use its platform to expose what multinational shipping lines in their outrageous illegal charges. These shipping lines, she said, do not like being exposed because they know they were not doing the right thing. “We are here so that the GSF can begin to tell the whole world what a particular shipping line is doing in our country and a region of the world and they don’t like that exposure. “So becoming part of GSF will expose a lot of things that are not proper. So it lends weight to the voice of Nigerian Shippers Council in the fight against illegal shipping charges. She expressed optimism that since the GSF and the shipping lines have a platform for discussion and interactions, the issues raised during the Colombo meeting as they affect shippers in Nigeria and other places would be addressed. She said, “ I think that coming here has opened our eyes to all the issues which will be beneficial to operators in Nigeria especially for shippers enlightenment and awareness”.

*Ugwoke, journalist, wrote from Apapa, Lagos.

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The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside, has assured that Nigeria is safe for shipping and other commercial activities in the maritime sector.

The director general, who said this while addressing multilateral and development agencies on the sidelines of the on-going IMO/MOWCA in Brussels, Belgium also noted that Nigeria is working with both local and international counter-piracy partners to eliminate criminality on its waterways.

He said: “We have a close working relationship with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) in order to foster an integrated approach to dealing with the menace. We have also increased surveillance and have deployed world-class maritime domain awareness assets in conjunction with the Nigeria Navy and the Nigeria Ports Authority to monitor our maritime environment”.

Peterside said that in addition, the country has deployed Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) in collaboration with the Nigerian Air Force as well as other naval assets to patrol and monitor the country’s waterways.

The DG observed that as a signatory to all IMO instruments and regulations relating to maritime security, Nigeria is committed to their compliance in order to eliminate piracy and criminality on the high seas.

He also said that Nigeria is mindful of the serious risk posed by piracy and maritime crimes to life, navigational safety and the environment saying this is why NIMASA is strengthening the Regional Rescue Coordination Centre located in the country as well as enhance information sharing activities.

While responding to questions on rising cases of militancy in the Niger Delta region of the country, Peterside said Nigeria is adopting a multi-faceted approach to deal with the challenge and assured the international shipping community that it is being tackled.

He urged the maritime community to draw a distinction between criminality, piracy and militancy. Peterside appealed to international development agencies to work with Nigeria in resolving maritime security challenges in the country because of its strategic position to the overall maritime development in the continent given the size of her economy, population and geographical location.

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Nigeria will support any regional initiative towards eliminating the scourge of piracy and maritime crimes, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dakuku Peterside stated this at the on-going International Maritime Organisation (IMO)/Maritime Organisation for West and Central Africa (MOWCA) sponsored integrated, sub regional coast Guard function network in Brussels, Belgium.

The summit was attended by Ministers of Transport from different African countries and maritime administrations from Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Liberia, Côte d Ivoire, DR Congo, Guinea, Ghana, Angola as well representatives of African Development Bank (AfDB), Regional Maritime University Ghana, Regional Academy of Science and Technology of the Sea Abidjan amongst others.

Speaking as the head of the Nigerian delegation to the IMO/MOWCA meeting, Dr. Peterside noted that Nigeria’s position is premised on the fact that crime at sea especially in the Gulf of Guinea, was almost, always transnational; hence it’s strong belief that only a regional and integrated approach would be most effective in checkmating the menace.

“Nigeria with the longest coast line in the continent is mostly affected by the activities of these criminals. If the continent and maritime actors do not rise up to tackle piracy, it will affect commerce which is the driver of growth and by extension hamper development”, he stated, describing as unfortunate a situation where the Gulf of Guinea had gained notoriety as one of the top three locations, where piracy occur globally with its attendant adverse spillover on freight rates, insurance and ports of call for vessels, which are all a function of the perceived maritime security of the region.

“Three things are important in any regional initiative to fight piracy; human capacity, infrastructure, legal and organizational framework”, Dr. Peterside indicated, as he briefed delegates of Nigeria’s efforts in tackling and mitigating piracy, stressing that “apart from military led patrols on our territorial waters to deter the criminals and high intelligence and surveillance network, Nigeria with the assistance of the IMO is pushing for early passage of a dedicated anti-piracy bill to provide the needed legal framework to tackle the crime”.

He maintained that Nigeria’s fight against piracy actually enjoys total support from the topmost layer of government in Nigeria and called on all governments in the Gulf of Guinea to show greater commitment towards dealing with maritime crimes in the region, which according to him “has adverse economic and reputational impact on member nations”.

Addressing the Summit which was declared open by the President of Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA) & current Transport Minister of Ghana, Hon. Fifi Kwetey; the Secretary General of MOWCA, Amb. Alain Michel Luvambo of Angola said the conference was a follow up of the MoU signed by 16 coastal member states of MOWCA at its 13th General Assembly of Ministers which was adopted by the African Union commission and United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea.

He posited that the MoU approved the setting up of a sub-regional coast guard function, adding that this particular meeting was to bring together partners, development agencies/donors, funders, financial institutions, shipping operators and maritime administrations across Africa and Europe so as to pull resources together towards financing the regional coast guard function, as well as the National Maritime coast guard institutions.

The summit continued yesterday with presentations by the AfDB, European Union, World Bank, AFRIEXIM Bank, Chinese Exim Bank, amongst others.

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Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, on Saturday said that the agency had taken steps to domesticate the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 in order to protect Nigerian seafarers. Peterside stated this in a message to the celebration of Seafarers Day with a Theme “At Sea For All” held in Lagos.

Peterside was represented by the Director of Administration and Human Resources in NIMASA, Ibrahim Jubril.

He said that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2006 came up with the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 otherwise known as the Seafarers’ Bill of Right which Nigeria had ratified.

According to him, for the convention, every seafarer had a right to a safe and secured workplace that complies with safety standards.

The director-general added that seafarers had the right to fair terms of employment.

He said that the agency realised the employment opportunities in seafaring as a result of the dearth of seafarers globally, adding that this was what made the agency to introduce the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP).

Peterside said that the programme was established to afford Nigerians adequate training and proper certification to be engaged in seafaring on board vessels irrespective of flag. He said that the NSDP, an intervention of government, was a way of making Nigeria a major supplier of seafarers like the Chinese, India and Filipinos in contributing to Nigerian economic growth.

“The agency is presently inundated with cases of employers refusing to pay seafarers’ salaries and allowances legitimately earned by them.

“Today will be the beginning of better days for seafarers when their employers and other stakeholders will begin to take seriously issues bordering on their safety, welfare, health and working environment,” Peterside said.

Also speaking, the Director, Maritime Labour Services of NIMASA, Mrs Juliana Gunwa, said that the ILO adopted by the 94th Session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva Switzerland.

Gunwa said that the convention was a product of the consolidation of over 68 of the old seafarers related Maritime Labour Conventions and recommendation.

She explained that what made the ILO different from MLC was the current structure and amendment which was to create a level playing field for government, ship owners and seafarers.

“For example to a seafarer, it will be a Bill of Right for a decent work and to government it will provide for effective implementation at all levels.

“The aim of the convention is to ensure a decent work for seafarers through a uniform and effective implementation by ILO member states that ratified the instruction.

“The importance of the convention is that compliance and enforcement regime through ports and flag states inspection regime,” Gunwa said.

She said that the convention was the fourth pillar of the International Maritime standards and complements the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

Gunwa said that in spite of successes recorded by the agency, NIMASA was currently developing strategies to address effective enforcement to ensure seafarers received their wages as and when due.

She said that there was need for companies to present their vessels for inspection and certification in line with the provision of the convention.

Also speaking, Capt. Thomas Kemewerigha urged NIMASA to critically enforce the MLC convention, adding that the convention had advocated better working and living conditions for all seafarers, as well as equal work and equal pay.

Kemewerigha said that since 2011, June 25 of every year had been celebrated globally as the Day of Seafarers.

He said that the recognition was based on the unique contribution made by seafarers to international sea borne trade to the world economy and to the society as a whole.

“Seafarers, as professionals, require technical skills, based on the operational nature of the vessel,” Kemewerigha said.

He said that Nigeria was blessed with the largest coast line in West and Central Africa, adding that seafarers today were in hopeless situation.

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The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has commenced sea training for cadets trained at various maritime institutions across the world under the Nigeria Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP).

Already, three firms have been approved by the agency to carry out the training.

Disclosing this in Lagos at a one day programme organised by Platform Communications with the theme, “The Youths and the Future of Nigeria’s Maritime Industry,” NIMASA Director of Labour, Mrs Juliana Gunwa said that the agency is working at approving more vendors to create a wider opportunity for cadets in the country.

Gunwa said the approval of more vendors will enable cadets undergo their compulsory sea training, a requirement for qualification as seafarer.

She explained that sea training programme would have commenced much earlier but for the change in government. According to her, “The change brought some slight delay but the Director General of NIMASA has contacted all the vendors that have indicated interest to provide sea time training for cadets. “As I speak, we have three vendors that are providing sea time training for our earlier batches; senior students are at sea services as I speak.

“There are also two vendors that have gone very far in the process of meeting the requirement for providing sea time training for other cadets. More vendors are also being invited to submit their papers and make the necessary presentation.” She assured cadets that the agency is working hard to create the enabling environment for sea time training for them.

“NIMASA will never send you to school and leave you without going for sea time, it cannot happen. NIMASA is the agency that regulates the theoretical training and the very vital aspect which is sea time training, there is no way we will not fulfill that obligation,” she said.

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Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has vowed that the agency under his leadership will take necessary precaution to ensure that all national assets under its care are used for the benefit of Nigerians.

Peterside said this while responding to questions from reporters at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja at the weekend on the agency’s plans to safeguard the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) from suffering the same fate as the Ship Building and Ship Acquisition Fund (SBSAF).

He said the current NIMASA management was bent on ensuring that the agency commits itself to the principles and letters of its enabling instruments, noting that the agency under his leadership will rededicate itself to its core functions of promoting indigenous participation in international and coastal shipping as well as regulating the maritime sector for Nigeria’s economic development.

Peterside said while the SBSAF was backed by policy, the CVFF is backed by law which makes it more difficult to be open to abuse.

He said, “With the CVFF, the agency contributes 35%, the banks who are the Primary Lending Institutions (PLIs) contribute 50% while the applicant makes an equity contribution of 15%. “The various layers of due diligence from the agency to the banks makes it very difficult for this programme to be abused as the banks for instance will undertake the risk analysis because they are bearing 50% of the risk,” he said.

He assured stakeholders that NIMASA will ensure the disbursement of the CVFF to qualified operators providing they meet the requirements as stipulated in the guidelines. The Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) is a product of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act of 2003 and provides for the disbursement of loans to indigenous operators in the shipping industry to grow their fleet.

The fund is derived from the 2% surcharge on all Cabotage contracts which are deducted and warehoused by NIMASA.

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The are now 1,227 vessels owned by Nigerians, according to the the President of Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engineer Greg Ogbeifun.

Ogbeifun said at a maritime investors and shipowners forum in Lagos recently that it is now very challenging for shipowners to take their vessels outside the country for repair, urging the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to support development of existing ship repair yards and even build new ones.

He also stressed the need for NIMASA vessel surveyors to always refer to the head office when they are presented with excuses for lack of ship registration papers, instead of being in a hurry to seize vessels..

“It is bad that surveyors are always in a hurry to seize vessels. A situation where a surveyor is checking a vessel and the vessel has no papers, but had already started the process of obtaining or renewing the papers and all the survey says is ‘oh, I am going to detain the vessel’ is bad..

“Surveyors should have a feedback mechanism with head office while in enforcement exercise,” Ogbeifun said..

At the forum, owners of stevedoring companies and dockworkers complained that jetties do not allow appointed stevedoring firms to work in their ports..

They pointed out that this can be an avenue to bring in illicit cargo..

During discussions on capacity of surveyors from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the shipowners shared different opnions. While some said the surveyors were of international standards in operations, others said there was severe knowledge and operational gap between the the agency’s surveyors and those around the world. They therefore recommended further and continuos training for the surveyors..

A shipowner, Emeka Ndu noted that the way the surveyors approach processes of registration and certification takes a lot of time..

“Usually, after you have submitted necessary documents, they would say the DG has not minuted it down. We must run regulatory roles as with global standard. Only NIMASA surveyors do check on vessels, where in other climes, surveyors from classification societies can be accepted,” he noted..

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The Federal Government, from all indications, may have gradually pushed the Nigerian Maritime industry to the front burners, in its parley with the Commonwealth on how the nation’s economic challenges could be transformed into window of multiple opportunities.

While the reasons may not be unconnected with the dwindling fortunes of crude oil in the international market and Government’s resolve to diversify and refocus on the non-oil sector, we have it on good authority, of Government’s serious discussion with the Commonwealth to reinvigorate the maritime, particularly, all aspects of exports, trade, capacity development and shipping.

While the reasons may not be unconnected with the dwindling fortunes of crude oil in the international market and Government’s resolve to diversify and refocus on the non-oil sector, we have it on good authority, of Government’s serious discussion with the Commonwealth to reinvigorate the maritime, particularly, all aspects of exports, trade, capacity development and shipping.

Specifically, a three- pronged approach which would coordinate trade with rails and shipping was being considered, particularly amongst Commonwealth member-countries; because it goes along with Government’s determination for laying very strong foundation for an enduring economic system, for Nigeria.

Already, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has not only adopted new measures to boost the efficiency of the nation’s maritime parastatals, he has also set up, two powerful committees, one with a mandate to guide Government in midwifing a national carrier and the other, to boost the effectiveness of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), particularly the implementation of it’s Cabotage law.

In tandem with these goals, the Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, Oliver Everett after his meeting with the Presidency, has also met with vital key stakeholders, particularly the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN).

The SOAN which hosted Everett in Lagos, also ensured the presence of the relevant Ministerial Committee, to be part of the meeting, as a result of the core focus of the Commonwealth on the maritime and shipping sector.

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Good maritime security should not be seen as an end in itself, it is a means to an end, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has said.

According to IMO, security enables sustainable maritime development, “which supports improved and sustainable economic development”.

This was the message delivered by IMO’s Chris Trelawny, who was speaking at the International Sea Power and Security Symposium 2016, held in Istanbul, Turkey recently.

In his presentation which focused on “Collaboration for Maritime Security”, Trelawny outlined IMO’s comprehensive capacity-building programmes, working with IMO Member States globally to enhance maritime safety, security and facilitation capabilities and to counter illicit maritime activities both bilaterally and regionally, “in cooperation with the United Nations agencies, offices and programmes, regional bodies, national development partners and other organizations”.

He highlighted one of the challenges, namely that maritime security and maritime law enforcement are often seen as departmental issues – issues for the navy, or the coast guard, or the police, or the maritime authority, with those agencies competing for scarce resources, rather than being part of a national, multi-agency response to developing the maritime sector.

A multi-agency, multidisciplinary approach is needed, he added

Meanwhile, IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim shared a platform recently with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the launch of the first maritime Indian Summit in Mumbai.

The event, according to IMO brings together stakeholders from diverse sectors of India’s maritime community to explore opportunities to promote growth and investment in the sector.

Lim explained that a successful shipping and port sector signified that a country was thriving. A policy to support these areas would be of great benefit to the country as a whole, not just to the maritime industry itself, he added.

He stressed the need for collaborative planning and praised Prime Minister Modi for the positive steps he and his government have taken to encourage investment and development throughout India’s maritime sector.

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The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi yesterday further pushed forward his pledge to move the Nigerian Maritime industry upwards, as he sets up two strong committees, with mandates to brainstorm and assist in laying foundations for the establishment of the national carrier and the overhauling of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

In addressing the problems of industry non-performance, the Minister assembled in Lagos. the cream of the nation’s brains, experience and ingenuity within the Nigerian Maritime industry, and pleaded with them, to assist the Government to deliver on its campaign promises.

The experts and stakeholders, which included the pioneer Chairman, Indigenous Ship-owners Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Chief Isaac Jolapamo, former Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron Rector, Engr. Olu Akinsoji; Arrowhead of Ship-owners Association of Nigeria, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun; Lloyds Ambassador, Engr. Emmanuel Ilori; the Secretary General, Abuja MoU, and former NIMASA Director General, Mfon Usoro; and Shipping Forum Boss, Chief Margaret Orakwusi- Onyema etc., actually assembled, at Amaechi’s instance, following Thursday’s Maritime Summit of the Association of Marine Engineers and Surveyors (AMES) at Sheraton Hotels , during which the Minister emphasized that since he was not a maritime expert, he would ensure he harmonises the strength of the industry operators, to restore the country’s lost glory, following the collapse of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL).

The first committee whose duty would be to guide the authorities on how to create the national carrier, it was learnt also has the job of midwifing vibrant ships that would fly the nation’s flags, in addition to providing oasis of refuge for Nigerian cadets, whether studying at home or abroad.

The second committee was saddled with the onerous task of making the NIMASA as agency work; by providing strong teeth where it lacks it, making sure the agency conscientiously works within the ambit of its enabling Act; in addition to ensuring that the Cabotage law is allowed to function in tandem with the nation’s economic interest.

Subsequently, fundamental issues which included those bordering on freights, carriage of goods on Cost, Insurance and Freight, as against the current Free on Board regime were all discussed also; including drawing his attention to how Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia amongst others have made their shipping policies fuel the growth of their countries economy.

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Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi has reiterated the Federal Government’s determination to float a new national shipping line as part of effort to develop the shipping sector.

Ameachi stated this yesterday while speaking at a maritime technical summit organised by the Association of Marine Engineers and Surveyors (AMES) in Lagos.

He assured that he will not disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) to acquire the national carrier but will be driven in partnership with private investors.

He also restated the need for a performance audit of agencies in the sector to ascertain what the challenges are with a view to addressing them with input from experts.

“I am determined to ensure that we get a new carrier and I will not disburse Cabotage fund for that. By next week, I will be meeting with some experts and ship owners and make decision on establishing the national carrier. We will also create a group that will move it forward.

“The performance audit will tell you how to move the industry forward. It makes you know what the problems are and make possible suggestions on how to move forward. Even when the performance audit is over, I will not make those decisions alone, I will try and meet experts in the industry and we will share these views with them,” he said.

Amaechi also spoke on the need to upgrade the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron to strengthen its capacity to produce skilled manpower for the sector.

According to him, the institution would have been well equipped and developed by now if the fund invested to establish the Maritime University, Okerenkoko had been put into it.

He said, “Anybody who has invested in Okerenkoko should have invested the money in MAN Oron. That is why the institution has not developed. We cannot continue to build another institution when we have not equipped existing ones.”

Earlier in his address, President of AMES, Charles Uwadia called for a holistic review of the maritime sector human capacity development.

He said the failure of the sector is due to lack of indepth technical input in maritime policies and their implementation in line with international best practice.

He added that the decline in standard, quality and profitability of the ships of Nigerian flag is as a result of their poor technical standards occasioned by the owner’s reluctance to comply with national and international standards and regulations.

In his presentation, former Alternate Permanent representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Engr. Olu Akinsoji said individuals with specialised knowledge especially in human capacity development are required to ensure policy formulation and implementation to move the sector forward.

He said most of the challenges faced in the sector are due to the deficit of human capacity development, which according to him must be looked into before establishing a new national carrier.

“There is deficit of human capacity development which must be looked into before establishing a new national carrier. We cannot build a nation if we don’t have the men to do it and in the maritime industry, it is not everybody that can do everything. If you want to do anything that is relevant to the growth of the industry, you need to be specially trained.

“The consciousness for specialized knowledge that is required in the industry has dwindled and as such we are faced with mirages of challenges and problems that we have unconsciously infringe on ourselves,” he said.

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The Chairman of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, has urged for Government’s urgent intervention in the nation’s shipping industry, noting that with the current slide in price of oil, the challenges of indigenous shipping have become more than doubled.

Ogbeifun who made the observation in a chat with newsmen in Lagos, noted the country’s indigenous shipping heavy involvement in the oil and gas, stating that the condition of Nigerian shipping industry which was already dying, has now exacerbated with the price of oil.

Highlighting that a good number of Nigerian shipping companies were presently idle because they were unable to secure contract from the International Oil Companies (IOCs) as a result of the prevailing economic situation, the SOAN Arrowhead also stressed that it had become imperative for the shipowners to synergize with the government on relevant policies especially, on how to shift attention to non- oil export.

He lamented the thousands of container vessels that were calling and moving out of the Nigerian Ports, explaining that there no single Nigerian ship involved in the shipment of these cargoes.

Ogbeifun emphasized that Government must play a pivotal role by creating opportunities for indigenous ship owners, not only to ensure their survival, but to enable them assist and promote Government’s employment dreams, with the Government offering the indigenous operators the right of first refusal, in the shipment of non-oil exports.

While fielding questions, the seasoned Maritime operator pleaded with the Authorities to also see the need to encourage smallers vessels to do transshipment of cargo from Lagos ports to Warri, Onne, Port Harcourt and Calabar port as well as other ports in the neighbouring countries, to reduce container trucks on the roads, while reinvigorating the economy.

“We should begin this initiative without delay. It will reduce the number of containers on the road, boost the economy, create jobs and help in the training of cadets”, he posited, calling on government agencies, especially the Nigerian Shippers Council (NCS), to take the bull by the horn. “Government has a critical role to play in this regard. Government must encourage the stakeholders to drive the sector, by supporting them like Britain”, adding that while most ship owners prefer to dry dock their vessels within the confines of the routes they operate, it was a pity that up till now, Nigeria has no facility that can be used by a 30,000 ton ships.

“As at today, shipbuilding is relatively non-existent in Nigeria. The building of ships involves enormous amounts of money. At the moment, Nigeria has only one ship building yard located in Onne, Rivers State, while there are other small yards that build barges and fiber glass small personnel- carriers. The big shipyards and dockyards capable of meeting the maintenance needs of heavy docking or for serious general ship repairs are not available here,” he noted, adding that the country was thoroughly losing the much revenue it ought to attract, as clients are forced to seek for such services, elsewhere.

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The Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), has hailed the appointment, stressing it’s conviction that the new DG would take the agency to desired heights.

The SOAN President, Greg Ogbeifun made the observation, stressing that the appointment was a confirmation of Government’s well placed confidence in Dakuku Peterside, just as the Starzs Group, comprising of the Starzs Marine and Engineering Ltd and the Starzs Investments Company Ltd also congratulated the new NIMASA Boss, noting his ability to make positive things happen.

Pledging to work with Dakuku, the SOAN offered it’s “unflinching support and commitment”, as well as prayers for Dakuku’s success, expressing it’s strong belief that the DG has “the intellectual capacity to redirect the affairs of NIMASA” and make a huge difference in the nation’s shipping and maritime sector.

Echoing same view, the Starzs group stated that as the “only indigenous privately owned shipyard in the country”, the group would continue to support Cabotage vessels as a major contribution towards achieving a successful Cabotage Act regime, under Dakuku’s administration.

“Your antecedents as the Commissioner of Works in Rivers State and Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) speaks volumes of your capacity, competence and ability to contribute to the growth and development of the Maritime industry”, declared the Starzs group, lauding the appointment for particularly coming “on the heels of the present realities in the oil and gas industry which has also affected the shipping industry”.

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President, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun has been appointed member of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) Advisory Board.

The Council is commissioned to work with Commonwealth governments to attract investment, promote enterprise and improve the business environment.

The 32-man team would also work with member companies to expand their businesses and to help with new investments in any Commonwealth country.

The CWEIC would also focus on ensuring economic governance and good business practice, infrastructure investment, sustainability, support of SMEs, access new markets through the Commonwealth’s First initiative, women in business and youth entrepreneurship.

The Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), established in July 2014 with the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat is a not-for-profit membership company with a mandate to facilitate increased trade and investment across Commonwealth countries.

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The leaderships of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) and the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) have confirmed that they have united under one umbrella called the Shipowners Forum.

In a press statement signed by the Shipowners Forum Chairman, Barr. (Mrs.) Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi and the Presidents of NISA and SOAN, Alhaji Aminu Umar and Engr. Greg Ogbeifun respectively, the group said the merger was made possible at the instance of Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi..

The statement reads: “Recently, the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi at a parley in Lagos requested Shipowners in Nigeria to present a common front in their engagement with government on all issues relating to shipowners in Nigeria..

“The Ministerial challenge was immediately followed up with a convivial meeting of shipowners where the resolution to float the Shipowners Forum under the Chairmanship of Barr. (Mrs) Margaret Orakwusi was reached..

“Shipowners in Nigeria whose vessels are registered and flagged in Nigeria or having correspondent/concurrent identities or relationships with Nigeria and have been operating from two platforms – the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) under the headship of Alhaji Aminu Umar and Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) under the headship of Mr. Greg Ogbeifun, recently convened a meeting in Lagos on the 26th of February 2016 to shelve partisan cleavages and resolved amicably to come under one united umbrella body, which they collectively agreed to name Shipowners Forum..

“This is without prejudice to the fact that the respective Associations NISA and SOAN will continue to exist according to the statues establishing them..

“The Shipowners Forum would like to use this medium to appreciate the Honourable Minister for his desire to unify shipowners in Nigeria. We are very ready and committed to engaging him and the federal government constructively with a view to supporting the government’s policy thrust to better the lot of shipowners in Nigeria and the entire maritime industry..

“We would like to use this opportunity to thank those Shipowner members of NISA and SOAN for their support in bringing this union to fruition.”.

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A security breach has allegedly occurred in the Maritime Trade Information Sharing Centre, Gulf of Guinea (MTISC-GoG), resulting in information being leaked to individuals with the intent and capability to launch hijackings in the area, an insurance agency Standard P&I Club informed.

The agency added that the breach has not yet been formally confirmed and that “vessels should use caution when reporting to MTISC GoG”.

International shipping association BIMCO advised that the company risk assessments and vessel hardening procedures, outlined in the Guidelines for Owners, Operators and Masters for Protection against Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea Region, should continue to be followed.

Standard P&I Club said that BIMCO recommended that “vessels entering the vessel reporting area for West Africa should continue to register with MTISC GoG in order to receive incident reports, but limit the provision of any information which would allow vessels to be identified or tracked.”

The shipping association said that in this way shipping security in the region should be preserved.

Since mid-January there has been a notable uptick in reported incidents of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

According to UK-owned risk management solutions provider Protection Group International (PGI), the pirates have given up on oil cargo theft and turned their attention to kidnapping crewmembers for ransom.

There were four recorded attacks on vessels in the area involving kidnapping in January, a significant increase compared to one per month from October to December 2015, while there were no reports of major oil cargo thefts since October 2015.

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The Minister of Transport, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, on Monday said that the maritime industry had the capacity to generate N500 billion revenue yearly for the nation, excluding customs revenue.

Amaechi made the disclosure during a one-day Summit organised by Tell Magazine and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) in Lagos.

He said that the shipping sub-sector was a major aspect of the maritime industry, adding that the sector remained crucial to the economy as the second revenue earner for government.

Amaechi said that the petroleum industry which had been the mainstay of the economy depended largely on shipping, without which the product evacuation would be impossible.

He said that shipping was the backbone of oil and gas productions and marketing.

“Statistics has shown that over 80 per cent of global oil trade is transported by ships, while in the case of Nigeria, it is 100 per cent. “The shipping sub-sector of the maritime industry is estimated to be worth over 3 billion dollars annually.

“It is therefore expedient to stress that transport is demand-driven and government in its commitment to shipping, will consider growth and development of the industry,’’ the minister said.

He urged the Executive Secretary of the NSC, Mr Hassan Bello, to organise a Stakeholders Forum before July to move the sector forward.

Amaechi said that change was institutional, adding that government expected that the maritime sector would move forward and be vibrant.

“I believe that there is no economy without transportation. Even before the introduction of technology, people transported goods from one place to another either by putting it on their heads or by bicycles.

“The kind of change we are expecting is how transport sector can generate more revenue for government,’’ the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes Amaechi as saying.

He said that government was recording success in the railway sector, adding that before March, the railway contract between Abuja and Kaduna would be test-run.

Amaechi said that before the end of 2016, there would be normal operation of rail line between South-South and South-West.

He said that this would reduce traffic on the road.

The minister said that the Federal Ministry of Transport was working with the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to move cargoes through Lagos to Calabar, Akwa-Ibom, Lokoja and other seaports in the country.

He said that there was need for practical steps in formulating a holistic policy that would address a number of issues and difficulties facing the industry across the board, including ineffective laws.

Amaechi bemoaned poor infrastructure, human capacity challenges and lack of political will to engineer fundamental reforms.

Also speaking, an Assistant Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Mr Nsebong Akpabio, urged maritime stakeholders to tap all the potential in the maritime industry.

Akpabio said that there was need to join hands with government to re-position the nation.

He urged stakeholders to do what should be done in the industry to put the country in proper shape.

“Within a short period, accident would be reduced on the roads and Nigeria would be an investment haven through the collective efforts of everybody,’’ NAN quotes Akpabio as saying.

The Chairman of the Summit and a former Minister of Information, Mr Frank Nweke, said the summit was actually vital to the survival of the economy.

Nweke said that the summit would assist stakeholders to improve more and make sure that the industry was diversified to create more jobs for our teeming youths.

In his address, Mr Hassan Bello commended the minister for finding time to attend the summit.

Bello said that the NSC had a synergy with the press and promised that the council would continue to have more sensitisation with critical stakeholders in the maritime industry. (NAN)

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Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Haruna Jauro has dispelled insinuations that the account of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) has been depleted.

The CVFF is a pool of fund collected from ships involved in coastal operation. It is warehoused by NIMASA to be borrowed by Nigerian shipowners for vessel acquisition through selected banks known as Primary Lending Institutions (PLIs).

Jauro told members of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport during their visit to the agency on Monday that the fund, which had grown to over N51 billion (about USD255million) remains intact.

He also disclosed that NIMASA remitted $140.8million (N42.22billion) into the Federation Account in five years. Jauro said the agency collected $270million revenue from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas vessels in 2015, however explained that the remittance was not inclusive of the N4,985,000,000 and $39,025,017 operating surplus for last year which was also remitted to the Federation Account.

He told the Senate Committee headed by Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima, that so far, only statutory revenue disbursements of the agency, which include a 25 per cent maritime fund and five per cent development for the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron had been undertaken.

The NIMASA DG observed that N450 million was remitted to government coffers in 2011, N6, 441, 383, 583 in 2012; N13, 833,431,883 in 2013; N9,732,349,682 in 2014 and N11,770,978,562 in 2015.

Jauro said that the agency had registered no fewer than 1,975 vessels in its ship registry; adding that the agency was now dutifully discharging all the functions it is statutorily saddled with, especially the responsibility of shipping development and regulatory matters relating to merchant shipping and seafarers.

He listed other responsibilities as including: administration and regulation of shipping licenses, administration, regulation and certification of seafarers, establishment of maritime training and safety standards, regulation of safety of shipping as regards the construction of ships and navigation, provision of maritime search and rescue services He said that NIMASA provides direction and ensure compliance with vessels security measures, carry out air and coastal surveillance and control and prevent maritime pollution among others

In his response, Yerima noted that the committee was actually in the agency to perform its oversight function so as to ensure that government agencies manage their resources prudently in the best interest of Nigerians.

He maintained that the issue of corruption, which has become a norm in the society, must be eradicated, positing that the committee was in the agency to beam its searchlight into the activities of NIMASA in the past years; soliciting full cooperation of the management, particularly in releasing vital information that would guide the committee in performing its oversight functions.

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THE Federal Government of Nigeria has been urged to review the bid process for acquisition and supply of vessels by International Oil Companies in order to shorten time leading to the contract award.

Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, the Managing Director, Starzs Marine Investments Nigeria Limited, who is also the President, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) made the call recently in an interview with TNMN.

He explained that although the bid process streamlined and ensured transparency, there was need to cut down on the duration of time spent on the process.

Ogbeifun said that operators sometimes had to wait for as much as two years for a bid to go through, at which point the vessels earmarked for the jobs may no longer be available.

He also noted that International Oil Companies on their own could not do much to reduce the time spent on this selection process as they worked in partnership with National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) which represents the Federal Government.

His words; “As at today, the IOCs (International Oil Companies) do not have much influence on bids and contract awards. Government, through NAPIMS and IOCs is in a JV for this.

“The JV ensures the companies in Nigeria are pre-evaluated and categorized by NCDMB (Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board) for their assets and NAPIMS through their NIPEX portal.

“Once categorised, you have access to information on jobs advertised on NIPEX portal. You can view every job that is upcoming, apply…put in your technical bid and it is analysed jointly by the IOC and NAPIMS. “The result of the technical bid determines who amongst the bidders move onto the commercial bid. Those who scale through the technical bid, the rule of the thumb is that the lowest bidder is awarded the contract.

“When the lowest bidder emerges, recommendation is made by the IOC via NAPIMS to the Group Management of the NNPC. Depending on the value of the contract, but I’m talking about the big ones and eventually it has to be approved by Board. That’s the process on ground.

“Experience shows that this process can take up to two years. So, you can imagine a bidder who has identified a vessel to use and then he has to wait for two years for that contract process to be concluded. Chances are that the vessel will no longer be there, it has probably gone off to other jobs.”

Explaining further, he said this delay in the selection process was one reason why some operators had begun to negotiate for NAPIMS to allow them take on vessels they have identified in the interim.

Ogbeifun however expressed faith that the current management of NAPIMS would soon review the process

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The Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) has been admitted as one of the three members of the Commonwealth Maritime group of nations. Disclosing this to the Nigerian Tribune in an exclusive chat, the President of SOAN who also doubles as the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Starzs Investments Group, Mr Greg Ogbeifun advised Nigerian ship owners to look up to foreign partnership if the nation hope to acquire crude carriers that will help lift the nation crude oil.

According to him, “Currently, Nigeria is losing colossally because foreign crude carriers are the ones lifting our crude. Indigenous ship owners need to collaborate to float a crude carrying fleet because we don’t have the money to buy them individually and our government is not at this moment looking at that direction.

“But if we come together and step out into the international community to engage companies that have crude carrying vessels but don’t have guaranteed cargoes to lift, then we would have moved a step forward in that perspective. “All we need do is to work out an arrangement with these foreign crude carriers’ owners to get involved in our crude lifting business. The role the government can play is to give a guarantee of these cargoes.

“In the last Commonwealth business conference, where SOAN played a major role, the Commonwealth maritime decided to form a working group of three members. The number one member of that working group is the British maritime. The number two member is the Malta maritime while SOAN of Nigeria is the number three member of that working group.

“The communiqué that came out of that business conference has been forwarded to the 53 Heads of Government of the Commonwealth.

“Nigeria can latch on to this opportunity to see how the Commonwealth nations that have redundant shipping fleets can collaborate with us to form a company. They will bring their vessels while we will bring our cargoes. In going this way, there won’t be much in capital outlay but the Federal Government has to give its supports first before it can become reality. Government has to give its consent that these cargoes will be available for the vessels to carry. That is just the role government will have to play.”

The Commonwealth group of nations had hosted its inaugural Commonwealth business forum in St Julian’s, Malta to see how members can forge a better economic working relationship amongst themselves.

It would be recalled that over the years, indigenous shipping companies have been disadvantaged in crude oil lifting in Nigeria. It has been a trade only for foreign firms. The arrangement has been on Free on Board (FOB) basis under which the buyer of crude oil products pays and takes every risk of transporting the products. This indeed has been a safe arrangement for the federal government as it suffers no risk as to the carriage of the products to the buyer. But under the arrangement, the indigenous shipping companies are excluded from the trade as the buyers arrange their own shipping companies to carry the wet products.

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President of the Ship owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Mr. Greg Ogbeifun has enjoined investors to tap the potential of ship breaking and recycling in the country.

Apart from creating employment opportunities for the youths presently roaming the streets for non-existent jobs especially in the urban centres, Ogbeifun maintained that the move would also add value to the economy. Ogbeifun, who is the Chairman of Starzs Group of companies made the call in a chat with journalists,. According to him, prior to this time, shipwrecks were taken to foreign countries for breaking and recycling but the cost of moving such wrecks has made it unprofitable to continue to do so.

“There are many wrecked ships scattered over the waterways of Nigeria. Until the 1960s, ship-breaking was considered a highly mechanised operation concentrated in industrialised countries such as the United States, United Kingdom , Germany and Italy. From the early 1980s, ship owners sent their vessels to the scrap yards of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Vietnam where payment, health and safety standards were minimal,” he said.

Giving an insight on why there are many wrecks and derelicts in Nigeria’s territorial waters which has cost the federal government billions of naira annually to remove, Ogbeifun said: “The aim was to maximise profit but today, in Nigeria, these vessels are abandoned midstream and around waterfronts within the country. The cost of towing these vessels to other parts of the country makes it no longer profitable for ship-breaking and recycling of steel”.

He revealed that some companies had started shipyard expansion to key into the sector, which had potential for developing and giving the required service locally in the years ahead.

“Companies such as Starzs Marine and Engineering Limited, operators of the Starzs Shipyard at Onne, have commenced shipyard expansion to incorporate ship-breaking. However, there is need for serious foreign partnership in terms of utilisation of the best available technology. There are small activities in ship-breaking by some firms down south in Calabar. The Indians have also indicated interest in partnership in ship-breaking with Starzs Marine and Engineering Limited at Onne, Rivers State,” he added.

He expressed hope that investment in the sector and the readiness to build capacity in the use of the required technology would open the sector for greater number of jobs for Nigerians, especially the youth.

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I'm delighted at the opportunity to join the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) at this investiture/gala night. Personally, I don't own a ship (or boat) but I feel pleased that the company I represent depends a lot on the services provided by Ship-owners and the Maritime industry. The final part of my value chain (export) where I actually receive money is essentially a maritime activity.

This evening, I will briefly speak on "The role of shipowners in national economic development." I will briefly examine the state of the shipping industry in Nigeria, highlight the role of indigenous shipowners in national development and specifically mention some key contributions Shell companies in Nigeria have made to the maritime sector.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a rich maritime history dating back at least to the 16th century when an export port operated from Calabar as a gateway for trade in commodities. If you look at the extensive coastline measuring over 800 kilometres stretching from East to West; The varied inland waterways along the Rivers Niger and Benue, and associated estuaries; Add on top of all these, a thriving population of over 160 million people; The image that will begin to emerge is that of a maritime industry whose potentials need to be fully unlocked.

There have been various documented developments in the marrtime sector. The opening of the Port Harcourt Port in 1913 principally for coal exports following the discovery of the mineral in Enugu; The setup of Nigeria's premier commercial maritime outfit, the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) in 1957, that is three years before independence (sadly, the shipping line which proudly hoisted our flag at major ports around the world, folded up in 1995). More recently, we have seen the enactment of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act in 2003 and the establishment of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).

The CVFF as designed would provide financial assistance to Nigerian entrepreneurs to own ships. Funding is a crucial intervention for the maritime sector since the sector is highly capital intensive. Over the years, we have also seen the establishment of the

National Maritime Authority which later became the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency' NIMASA to superintend the development of indigenous shipping.

Additionally, The Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act of 2010 specifically seek to increase the participation of Nigerian vessel owners in the oil and gas sector.

Much as these efforts have laid the required foundation, we all agree that there is still a very long way to go for the Nigerian maritime industry. All around the world, the shipping sector creates jobs and generates wealth.

So, what are we missing out on? Statistics released by the Nigeria Ports Authority indicate that a total of circa 86million metric tonnes of cargo (excluding crude oil) were moved through Nigerian Ports in 2014. How much of this trade was carried out by Nigerian companies?

At a meeting in Lagos in April this year, maritime stakeholders estimated that the sector is capable of generating millions of dollars in revenues annually to the Nigeria economy and creating thousands of jobs in the country. Indeed Nigeria is naturally positioned as the maritime hub for West and Central Africa, with the capability to assume the status of a Maritime International Center (MIC).

The Shell Exploration and Production Companies in Nigeria are aware of these potential benefits and continue to implement policies that support the development of the maritime sector in Nigeria. These policies are hinged on indigenous asset ownership, the development of supplier services and building human capacity. Our support to the shipping business has been enhanced through carefully structured financial and process enhancement techniques that enable capacity building. Where necessary, we also extended the contractual delivery dates to give the contractors enough time to overcome execution challenges.

Since the enactment of the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act, The Shell Petroleum Development Company J oint Venture (SPDC JV) has awarded five-year contracts for the building of 14 vessels to Nigerian companies. In addition to these contracts, the provision of tugboats, houseboats, barges, light marine vessels and operation and maintenance of SPDC-owned heavy marine vessels used in swamp operations are now being provided by Nigerian entities.

The Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo), our deep-water subsidiary has equally awarded a contract for the supply of two large offshore vessels. All tanker handling pilotage contracts previously provided by multinationals are now in the hands of Nigerian contractors.

I'm also pleased that our support for shipping development extends to the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG), where Shell has a 25% shareholding and is technical advisor. The shipping arm of NLNG, Bonny Gas Transport Limited has signed agreements with foreign partners for the training of 580 Nigerians in different aspects of ship building and construction.

Shell Companies continue to work with the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping and other stakeholders to attend seminars and strategy sessions to discuss how to further enhance the participation of Nigerian companies in the marine aspect of our operations. More importantly these Nigerian companies on the back of Shell's support have grown the capacity of local staff in critical areas of their operations. In some cases, Shell provided marine experts to review the design of the vessels and technical assistance during the building of vessels at shipyards in Malaysia and Singapore.

The Nigerian Chamber of Shipping at its 10th anniversary in December 2012 commended us for our efforts as the 'Most Local Content Friendly IOC' . We were quite encouraged by this recognition, but by far, the most compelling motivation for us is the fact that the shipping sector should contribute its share to the national development in Nigeria in a scenario, where plummeting oil prices alone cannot support our national developmental needs.

Distinguished gentlemen, you have a major stake in this country and you are as important as International oil companies to moving the nation forward at this time of change.

Locally, you help to create wealth by providing jobs and facilitating the movement of goods. By its nature, the maritime industry does not exist and thrive alone; you need to move goods by roads, rail and air from ports in-country. This means that when business booms at the seaports, freight companies are happy, and the multiplier effect is good for the economy. The development of shipping services helps equipment leasing, shipbuilding and logistics services.

On the global scene, you are all potentially flag-waving ambassadors for Nigeria. You do not necessarily require any diplomatic posting or accreditation. As you go about your business around the world, you proudly display Nigeria's flag, export our culture and generally amplify the Nigerian brand.

I will end with the comments of the new Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Haruna Baba Jauro who in a recent media interview referred to a forecast that by 2020 that Nigeria will be among four major countries that will be key players in Maritime Industry.

May we all say "may it be so!"

Thank you for your attention.

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The 2015 Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) hosted by the European island nation of Malta was a big event in all respects and an outstanding one in the business calendar of the Commonwealth of Nations. Beyond elaborate opening ceremonies conducted by the Maltese Prime Minister, Hon Dr Joseph Muscat, the event featured many other important sessions in which the delegates from different countries of the Commonwealth and observers from other blocs participated.

There were many separate conferences, exhibitions and interactive platforms through which delegates from various parts of the globe administered by Britain one time or the other came together to deliberate on ways to drive development and empowerment in their various countries, the entire Commonwealth bloc and the rest of the global community for the overall benefit of mankind.

Of all sessions that featured at the 2015 CBF, however, the one tagged The Maritime Commonwealth hosted by the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), according to observers and commentators from different parts of the world, attracted the highest attendance and patronage. The SOAN session was arguably the most successful showing by any African group that graced the 2015 CBF. Beyond African delegates who, as expected, would want to identify with and show solidarity with Nigeria, a fellow African nation that has proved to be a big force in the continent, attendees from other English-speaking nations turned up in their numbers to see what ‘the giant of Africa’ had to offer. They were not disappointed! The robust outing by the SOAN and the way it carried Nigeria’s banner at the international arena became a major topic for discussion even as the attendees were set to return to their respective countries at the end of the programme. As acknowledged by delegates from Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean and other English-speaking nations present, Nigeria – through the in-depth and convincing presentation by SOAN - demonstrated that she houses the best from Africa in all respects.

Delivering a paper entitled The Shipping and Maritime Industry in Nigeria: Opportunities and Challenges, SOAN President, Mr Greg Ogbeifun, a marine engineer, took bold steps to lay before the international community the present state of the maritime domain and shipping activities in Nigeria and the huge opportunities offered for investments and growth by this major contributor to the national economy. He invited foreign investors to tap into these opportunities to expand the frontiers of their businesses. Nigeria’s maritime and shipping environment, he explained, remains an investor’s delight any time any day. The maritime environment in Nigeria, according to Ogbeifun, will continue to be a veritable medium of transportation, global commerce, resource exploitation and recreation. “It will remain relevant for the economic prosperity and development of most nations because of its abundant mineral resources and huge maritime ecosystem. In this vein, Nigeria’s maritime environment which spans about 84, 000 square meters is of great strategic importance to the nation on account of the huge deposits of mineral resources and marine life it offers. It is a known fact that there are vast resources in Nigeria’s maritime environment ranging from hydrocarbons to living and non-living resources most of which have remained untapped.”
Nigeria has a total of about 8,600 km of inland waterways, the second longest in the entire continent of Africa. This comprises an extensive coastline of about 800 kilometers. These therefore avails a variety of investment potentials and opportunities cutting across shipping, mining, manufacturing and services industries. Ogbeifun announced to the world that Nigeria’s maritime sector remains the nation’s economic centre of gravity with 80 per cent of the national budget based on revenues from crude oil and gas exports, taxes and royalties. This, therefore, underlines the fact that Nigeria’s maritime industry will remain attractive as a sector that will continue to generate interest on account of its resource potentials. He also debunked, in serious terms, negative media stories in the local and international media portraying Nigeria as a ‘no-go area’ for foreign investors owing to a number of concocted and unsubstantiated reasons proffered by people with various interests that are known to be largely selfish. Nigeria, through SOAN, also made a strong argument that it has become inevitable that developed nations within the Commonwealth family must partner with the poorer and developing ones in whatever ways possible to drive investments and development in them for the overall advantage of the people.


The historical development of coastal and inland shipping in Nigeria is connected to the evolution of Coastal and Inland Waters Shipping in West Africa. It is also connected with the impact of shipping and commercial activities and exploits of European shipping and trading companies on the West African coasts, inland waterways and the hinterland.

As the largest market in the African continent and the biggest economy in the sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria accounts for over 65% of total sea-borne traffic in volume and value in the West and Central Africa. Besides a high volume of import and export trade from and to dominant economic regions of the world, industrial activities in manufacturing, oil and gas, telecommunications and power generation have continued to expand in scope and context following a liberalized economic environment. These expansionist trends at the macro level have consequently widened the investment frontiers in the shipping and logistics industry that have moved and supported the growth of the nation’s economy over time. This trend is manifested in the following areas.

First is the development and growth of domestic water-borne transportation. Following the enactment of Nigeria’s Cabotage Act, there has been an increase in demand for cargoes and persons to be transported between the country’s ports and inland waterways by ships and ferries, a development that has prompted calls that modern, safe, reliable and efficient domestic water-borne transportation be expanded for the benefit of the people, shippers, their businesses and the economy.

Second is the development of the shipping and ship-repairs industry. In the first quarter of 2015, according to the Nigerian Ports Authority, a total of 5,139 ocean-going vessels with a total Gross Tonnage (GT) of 61,990,999 called at Nigerian ports compared. This is compared with the GT of 57,034,338 recorded in 2014. The GT of crude oil tankers recorded in the period under review showed a 12.21% increase over the equivalent period in 2014. Such a number of vessels trading on Nigerian waters and the volume of maritime activities in the country demands vibrant ship repair and dry dock facilities to provide essential services to the vessels where and when necessary. Presently, these services are inadequate both in number, capacity and capability. Therefore, this calls for the development of a robust ship-building and repair industry that would make ships and marine platforms acquisition, repair and maintenance affordable. The opportunity for international participation in ship repairs and ship-building is also boosted by the Cabotage Act which encourages vessels repaired and ships built in Nigeria.

The third is in the area of maritime training. Nigeria boasts of thousands of offshore support vessels of various types and sizes operating in her waters. Unlike the early purpose-built vessels, modern offshore supply vessels are now designed to meet the more demanding needs of deeper water operations which has led to much improved designs and packages with multi-functional capabilities. Deployment and retrieval of anchors of various types in deep waters and towing of Ultra Large Crude Carriers now require more powerful winches. These and other factors dictate that modern offshore vessels be larger and more powerful. In harnessing the developments in modern equipment design, the vessels are required to be more technologically sophisticated than ever before. As the capabilities of offshore supply vessels increases, the technologies behind these functions also increase. These technologies such as dynamic positioning, operating equipment such as remotely operated underwater vehicles, seismic surveys, heavy lift, mechatronics, digital control systems for machinery, hybrid propulsion systems and thrusters require training and retraining of seafarers to meet up with the trend. There are limited institutions of international standards to meet these demands.

In the area of offshore upstream operations, the demand for offshore support vessels depends on oil and gas exploration and production activities on the waters. With about 335 offshore installations both in developmental and operational stage within West Africa, the need for various types of offshore support vessels is imminent as a new requirement or replacement of aged vessels. Offshore activities can generally be broken into drilling and production. Drilling and exploration involves more dynamic and uncertain demand as well as greater variety of marine services and equipment. Production, on the other hand, is a long-term endeavour with facilities that can last up to 30 years and in steady demand. For this, specialized vessels are required. This demand calls for great partnership opportunities with foreign investors to grow indigenous capacity.

In the aspect of logistics, opportunities for African indigenous logistics concerns to partner with foreign ship owners who control large volumes of freight is of paramount importance. Such partnerships will offer opportunities for transfer of technical and managerial know-how. There is a growing demand for integrated logistics services to support increasing industrial production and services, especially in the oil and gas industry, telecommunications, power and manufacturing. Needs for supply chain management have deepened with expanding industrial production and growing capacity utilization resulting from improved infrastructure.

Talking about terminal operations, the deregulation and liberalization of the port sector has given additional impetus for private initiatives in terminal operations. Private participation in all levels of port operations is now possible through the ongoing port reform measures expected to climax into full privatization. The port sector is among key sectors of the economy on which the government placed priority attention in her general economic reform programme. The Nigerian government has adopted concession as a preferred strategy for private sector participation in the pot sector.

Nigeria has a vast flourishing hinterland. Most of the regions are far from the coastline and cannot be serviced directly by the sea ports. This physical barrier makes the development of inland container depots (ICDs) and dry ports imperative in order to bring port services closer to major commercial and trading centres of the country.

Nigeria’s strides towards accelerated economic development have necessitated the adoption of the free trade and export-processing zones strategy to further facilitate private sector investments and encourage foreign direct investment in the economy. In this regard, comprehensive investment incentives are provided for would be investors in all segments of the economy, especially those activities that are export-oriented. This is made possible by the vast maritime environment nature largely endowed the country with.

There are a huge number of wrecked ships scattered over the waterways of Nigeria. Until the 1960s, ship-breaking was considered a highly mechanized operation concentrated in industrialized countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. From the early 1980s, ship owners sent their vessels to the scrap yards of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Vietnam where payment, health and safety standards are minimal and are desperate to work. The aim was to maximize profit. Today, however, in Nigeria these vessels are left abandoned midstream and around waterfronts within the country. The cost of towing these vessels to other parts of the country makes it no longer it profitable for ship-breaking and recycling of steel. Companies such as Starzs Marine and Engineering Ltd, operators of the Starzs Shipyard at Onne, have commenced shipyard expansion that will incorporate hip-breaking. However, there is need for serious foreign partnership in terms of utilization of the best available technology. There are small activities in ship-breaking by some Chinese firms down south in Calabar. The Indians have also indicated interest for partnership in ship-breaking with Starzs Marine and Engineering Ltd at Onne, Rivers State.

Nigeria’s presentation at the 2015 CBF canvassed that the meeting should give the Commonwealth an opportunity to develop a master plan that will not only see an enhanced maritime and shipping activity within the region and beyond, but create the enabling environment for international investments in every facet of the maritime domain within member-nations.

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  Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Wednesday stepped up his government’s campaign for direct foreign investment in Lagos, where he seized the opportunity at the just concluded Common Wealth Business Forum in Malta, to invite investors to take advantage of the numerous investment opportunities that abound in the state. The Commonwealth Business Forum in Malta, which held from Tuesday 24 to Thursday 26 November, attracted over 1,200 business leaders from 80 countries. Lagos was the toast of many investors as the Special Session hosted by the State Government had prospective investors from several countries in attendance. Governor Ambode, who was accompanied to the forum by a strong contingent consisting Commissioners and a Special Adviser from the State Executive Council, intimated investors to various investment opportunities in Lagos State. “The strong team I have here with me is a statement of our commitment to facilitating business in Lagos for investors. With the establishment of the Office of Overseas Affairs and Investment, the government will eliminate whatever bottle-necks may want to frustrate investors. This Office is a one-stop shop that will handle all your needs and ensure that there are no obstacles hindering investors who come to our State,” the Governor said. Rt. Hon. Mark Simmonds of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, who anchored the Lagos State-sponsored session, said he was very impressed with the interest shown in Lagos. He said that this was a strong indication that Lagos is not just an investment destination but an emerging economic hub. There were strong representations from the Kingdom of Nepal, Kuwait, Malaysia and Malta. Lord Jonathan Marland, Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, particularly commended the Lagos team for its role and contribution to the forum. Earlier, Governor Ambode who delivered a keynote address at the Plenary Session of the Forum titled, “The Commonwealth, the EU, and the Global Economic Cooperation: A One Way Ticket”, charged all nations on global economic cooperation stating that “whether you are in the EU, in the Commonwealth or whatever other organization out there, the only true commonwealth we all have is to ensure a healthy financial and economic global order through economic cooperation.” The Governor also fielded questions as part of a panel to discuss cooperation and other economic challenges within the Commonwealth. Those in the Governor’s entourage include the Special Adviser, Office of Overseas Affairs and Investment, Professor Ademola Abass; Commissioner for Transport, Mr. Dayo Mobereola; Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Engineer Ganiyu Johnson, among others.
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  THE cost of operating cargo ships is forecast to rise over the next two years after falling in 2015, according to the latest Ship Operating Cost Annual Review and Forecast 2015/16 report published by global shipping consultancy Drewry. According to the report, the average decline in ship operating costs across the sectors covered in the report in 2015 was 1.0%, but for ships that are big consumers of lube oils, the decline in overall costs was closer to 2%. Weak freight markets have forced ship owners to trim costs, while they have also been able to take advantage of falling commodity prices and lower insurance costs. “Operating costs are likely to rise in the future, as the scope for further cost cutting is in most cases quite limited. However, the expected increases in 2016 and 2017 are likely to be modest in nature as we anticipate only small rises in the cost of lube oils and other commodities; with a relatively weak global economy inflation is also expected to remain low,” comments Nigel Gardiner, Managing Director at Drewry. Modest increases in manning costs are in the pipeline given the uplifts that have been agreed in International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) wage scales for 2016 and 2017. If freight markets improve hull values for modern vessels will rise and this should lead to higher hull and machinery (H&M) premiums, but only small rises are expected in 2016 and 2017. “Over the past few years of low economic growth, expenditure on repairs and maintenance has for many owners been cut back and when markets improve we expect some ‘catching up’ to take place. Hence, the expectation is that expenditure on R&M will rise faster than inflation”, concludes Gardiner. Meanwhile, European shipowners organised recently a seminar on offshore shipping in the European Parliament. The event specifically targeted European policy makers in an effort to raise awareness about the diversity and importance of the European shipping industry’s fastest growing segment. “I believe it was a very good first step in putting offshore shipping on the map. It emphasised the challenges faced by the sector as well as its specific needs” remarked Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary General. The event follows a series of steps taken to bring this budding industry into the ECSA fold. As human activity expands and intensifies in the areas of offshore oil and gas and wind energy, offshore service vessels have proliferated to cater to the needs of this booming sector: Ships prospecting for oil; conducting oceanographic research; providing diving assistance; undertaking undersea work; laying and repairing cables or pipelines, ships servicing offshore wind farms as well as oil and gas platforms. We are very pleased to be given the possibility to present offshore shipping in the European Parliament. Offshore shipping is a well-regulated industry characterized by highly advanced technology and a dedication to innovation. Its value creation and contribution to a knowledge-intensive European maritime cluster is significant” said Hanna Lee Behrens, Chairman of the dedicated ECSA offshore shipping working group. Following a presentation of the different types of vessels engaged in offshore shipping as well as the markets in which they operate, participants discussed a variety of issues directly or indirectly affecting the industry. Particular attention was paid to market access restrictions in some countries and to the potential EU benefits if those restrictions are addressed. The current TTIP negotiations between the US and the EU are a case in point. Europe stands to make significant gains by advocating that access to the US shipping market be facilitated on the basis of the principle of reciprocity. The US could equally benefit from the know-how and expertise of the EU offshore industry, breathing new life into its offshore activities. Commenting on the event, hosting Bendt Bendtsen said: “The seminar successfully highlighted the importance of the sector – both in terms of growth in Europe and for the EU’s goals in other policy areas, such as energy and climate. It was very satisfactory that the messages of the sector – to us as policy-makers – were so clear: We need a stable and well-coordinated regulatory framework, open markets and a trade agreement with US to enable competitiveness and further growth.”
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  The Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) has indicated its preparedness to participate fully in the fourth coming Commonwealth Business Forum.

The decision of SOAN, which comprises most of the active players in the shipping sector of the economy, was in line with the promise made by its president, Mr. Greg Ogbeifun during a press conference in April this year to herald the formal unveiling of the association.

A marine engineer, Ogbeifun promised to resolutely pursue the objectives of setting up the association by ensuring that Nigerian ship owners gain pre-eminence across the globe.

According to him, SOAN was created to articulate a concise roadmap aimed at resuscitating the almost comatose Nigerian maritime and shipping industry while providing a veritable platform for constructive engagement with policy makers and other stakeholders worldwide.

The decision of the association to attend forum followed a formal invitation given to SOAN by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC).

According to the invitation the association has been asked to lead a private sector delegation within the Nigerian contingent to the 2015 Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) taking place in Valetta, Malta from November 24 to 26, 2015.

The CWEIC and the government of Malta are the hosts of the Commonwealth Business Forum, the apex organisation representing private sector businesses within the Commonwealth and the only institution vested with powers to promote intra-Commonwealth trade and investment. The event is designed to provide a space for high level dialogue between business and government leaders from the Commonwealth and beyond.

Giving an insight into the event, Ogbeifun said an important aim of the CBF is to develop stronger partnerships between governments and businesses to ensure that the Commonwealth plays its part in promoting sustainable growth across the world.

The Malta event, he emphasized, will create a platform for SOAN to meet and interact with the highest level of Nigerian government as the Nigerian delegation to the event (CHOGM) will be led by President Muhammadu Buhari.

His words: “Every government needs a credible platform to help interrogate issues and contribute to progressive policy formulation and SOAN promises to be that platform for the Nigerian maritime and shipping industry. On November 25, SOAN will host a Maritime Forum for about 500 delegates from the Commonwealth. The forum will be used to showcase to the Commonwealth nations the potentials in the Nigerian maritime and shipping industry and thereby attracting foreign investments to the nation.”

The SOAN president, who is also the Chairman of Starzs Investments Limited which operates a dockyard in Onne, Rivers State, stated that the forum, which usually holds alongside the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), is the major business event in the Commonwealth calendar.

According to him, the forum convenes Heads of Governments, senior ministers, government delegates and the private sector in one place to discuss business opportunities and policy-making.

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  Some executives of SOAN and a trustee, Barr. Mrs. Margaret Orakwusi today displayed their magnanimity by exhibiting SOAN's Corporate Social Responsibility at the Premiere Maritime Forum organized by the undergraduates of students of Law faculty, University of Lagos, Akoka Campus at the Inauguration of their Maritime Forum which took place on the 15th September, 2015 at the Law Faculty Annex, University of Lagos, Akoka Campus. SOAN pledged substantial sum of money towards the continuation of the Forum by making it an annual event for the sensitization and education of the students of the Maritime Law faculty of the University of Lagos, Akoka Campus. Whilst the President, Mr. Greg Ogbeifun, on behalf of himself as the Chairman/ CEO of Stars Investments Company Limited went further by offering scholarship to the President of the Maritime Forum Mr. Niyi Balogun for the duration of his study at the Nigerian Law Svchool. Bravo SOAN! You are worthy of emulation!
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  As the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) prepares to attend the Commonwealth Business Forum which is held alongside the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) scheduled for Valetta, Malta in November 2015, a rare platform is being created for her to present to the global business family and particularly the new government in Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari real stakeholders' roadmap on how best to harness the huge but neglected potentials in the country's shipping sector for the benefit of the economy. In furtherance to this, Mr. Oliver Everett, Chief Executive Officer, Commonwealth Enterprises and Investment Council (CWEIC) and his team visited Nigeria recently to assess SOAN's arrangements and level of preparedness to this event. SOAN President, Engr Greg Ogbeifun and Secretray/Legal Adviser, Mrs Jean Chiazor Anishere were on ground to receive them in Lagos. Pix above shows. L-R: Greg Ogbeifun, SOAN President; Abdul Hamza, Head, Business Development, Commonwealth Enterpirsies and Invetstment Council (CWEIC); SOAN's Secretary, Mrs Jean Chiazor Anishere and Oliver Everett, CEO, CWEIC in Lagos, Nigeria.
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  The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Ambassador Kamalesh Sharma, has held a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting holding in Malta in November. Ambassador Sharma congratulated President Buhari for his emergence as Nigeria’s President, promising that the Commonwealth would help to build Nigeria, and strengthen the country, to provide more opportunities for it’s indigenes. The Secretary-General also congratulated Nigerians on the electoral process that brought President Buhari to power and the democratic change of government, hoping that the road map the President has enunciated in his inaugural speech would be followed. He said that Nigeria has been a pillar of strength in the Commonwealth and it was important that the President was aware of the developments in the Commonwealth, ahead of the meeting in Malta.
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