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Licensed Agent Flays Taskforce On Customs Reforms

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A Port Harcourt based Custom licensed agent, Ajuonuma Iwuji has condemned the setting up of the new task force to reform the Nigeria customs Service (NCS), saying the members of the reform committee have a moral burden and are not in a good position to reform the revenue agency.

According to him, the accelerated promotion of one of the committee members from the position of assistant comptroller of customs, caused a disaffection in the system and was a disincentive to diligent officers that spent years of their life toiling for the agency without promotion.

Iwuji, who is the Managing Director, Ajiwu shipping Agency Ltd, said the member, who is now retired and is believed to be unhappy with those who retired him, could use his position in the committee to get back at those who retired him from the agency.

He said that Minister of Finance was wrongly advised to constitute the committee without an input from the comptroller-General of customs as required by the enabling custom and Execise Management Act, (CEMA). He said if the Federal Government wants to reform the agency, the first thing to do would be to amend CEMA, a 1958 Act, which is no longer in time with modern trends.

He maintained that instead of these distractions with reform committee every now and then, the government should carry out a holistic amendment of CEMA and put in a constituted customs service commission that will take charge of recruitment, promotion, discipline and welfare of officers.

It will be recalled that the Federal Government recently reconstituted the presidential task force committee on the reform of Nigeria customs service, saying it is because of its intention to ensure optimal performance of the agency.

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Maritime

IMO Vows To Stop Piracy In GoG

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A global agency, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has vowed to stop the menace of piracy and other criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG). 
The organisation noted that the continuous activities of piracy and armed robbery along the Gulf of Guinea were capable of crippling international shipping in the region. 
According to IMO, piracy and other criminal activities along GoG damage the world economy and trade.
The Secretary-General of IMO, Kitack Lim, who stated this during the inaugural meeting of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum and Shared Awareness and De-confliction conference (GoG-MCF/SHADE, said, he was encouraged by the establishment of the forum.
“This situation has continued for several years and these illegal acts must be stopped. Now is the time to make real progress”, he said 
 Lim said IMO would continue to support training and other capacity-building activities for Gulf of Guinea states as well as assist cooperative regional efforts under the framework of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct.
The Yaounde Code of Conduct is an agreement signed by countries in the region that commit to working to repress piracy and armed robbery against shipping activities.
The secretary insisted that the security situation in the GoG remains at the top of the organisation.
He said that the GoG-MCF/SHADE was aimed at facilitating shared awareness and de-conflicting activities in the region by linking all relevant stakeholders to advanced and coordinated maritime security activities.
Lim acknowledged the positive strides in the area of inter-agency cooperation and response on a regional and international level, especially the anti-piracy legislation passed by Ghana, recent convictions of pirates in Togo, and Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project.
“At the request of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission, IMO continues to work with the ICC Yaoundé, including supporting a series of regional expert level online meetings aiming to assess the implementation and sustainability of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and to provide recommendations to the three organisations”, he said.

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Maritime

Seafarers Lament Effects Of Covid-19

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The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA)  says the impact of Coronavirus pandemic, also known as Covid-19, in the country is negatively affecting the welfare of seafarers in the sector.
The union noted that the pandemic had created huge unemployment and forced investors to abandon the maritime sector.
The newly elected treasurer of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) in Rivers State, Comrade Jonah Jumbo, disclosed this during an interview with The Tide.
Comrade Jonah regretted that the pandemic had crippled maritime activities globally, saying most ship owners and management have abandoned shipping activities, thereby affecting the welfare of seafarers.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic had created unemployment amongst crew members in the sector as ship owners refused to engage certified seafarers on board vessels.
According to him, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced many investors in the marine sector to abandon their business as most sea vessels were stranded on the sea for months without discharging their cargoes.
“The impact of the pandemic is hitting harder on the welfare of the seafarers and their families.
“Investors in the marine sectors are no longer coming into the country to invest due to the global pandemic”, he said.
Jonah whose maritime activities span through eight states including Lagos, Kogi, Ondo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Delta, called for prayers to salvage the maritime sector.

By: Chinedu Wosu

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Maritime

Sanction Nations That Reject Nigerian Certificates, NIWA Urges NIMASA

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A former President of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Comrade Sunday Avoseh, has urged the Nigerian Maritime Administrations and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to reject the certificates of seafarers from nations that refuse to accept certified Nigerian seafarers.
He said that Nigerian Seafarers’ certificates of competency were issued by Nigerian indigenous seafarers’ training institutions.
Avoseh made the call while speaking with newsmen in Port Harcourt recently. 
He said if the regulatory agency could improve on the standards of Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) in Oron, it would be able to compete with other global maritime institutions.
According to him, if the institution is worth its onion, the agency could stand on its feet that any nation that would not accept the local certification of Nigerian seafarers, such country would also lose privilege of parading its certificate in Nigeria.
Avoseh decried the high cost of traveling abroad to acquire certificates, saying there is no technical know-how other countries offer that Nigeria could not produce.
“Any country that will not accept the certificate of Nigeria through bilateral relationship with other nations, we should also not accept their certificates.
“NIMASA needs to do something urgent because foreign exchange is being wasted by seafarers going to obtain papers outside this country.
“There is nothing they are going to get outside the country that we cannot be able to do here, NIMASA need to give priority to this”, he said. 
He pleaded with the management of the regulatory agency to, as a matter of urgency, lower the cost of certificate and discharge books renewal, insisting that the present cost is too high.
He also called on NIMASA to expedite action in implementing the Cabotage Act as well as reduce the hospital bills for seafarers.
“Today, for a seafarer to be able to renew his certificate of competency and do endorsement of their discharge books, what they are charging is too high, even the discharge books.
“They need to lower their price so that it can be affordable for seafarers because for someone who has not gained employment and you are asking him to come and pay exorbitant fee to be able to renew their documentation, I don’t think that is right.
“They also need to look into the fees that are charged in the hospitals for medicals.
“These are the things NIMASA needs to do, including the implementation of Cabotage Law. It is annoying to still see foreign ratings on our waterways, NIMASA needs to do something”, he said.

By: Chinedu Wosu

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