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Customs Tasks FG On Ports Congestion

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The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko, wants the Federal Government to take punitive measures against its agencies that refuse to clear their cargoes from the ports.

Dikko who said this in Abuja lastTuesday while fielding questions at a forum expressed regret that several appeals made by the Customs Service to the defaulting government agencies had fallen on deaf ears.

He blamed some of the agencies for worsening the ports congestion situation.

The comptroller-general said that the only way out of the problem was for government to institute punitive measures against any of its agencies that refused to clear its cargoes in good time.

“We have been writing, informing them that please come and clear your cargo because staying there is not in the best interest of the country.

“What I believe the government should do is that I am telling you it is better government should start taking punitive measures on all these agencies that are abandoning their cargoes in the port giving them  specific time and period to clear these thing or else the agency should be sanctioned.”

Dikko said that the actions of the affected agencies were inimical to the growth of the sector and to the nation’s economy.

The comptroller-general observed that such cargoes which would have been designated for specific projects but ended up being neglected at the ports might be responsible for many cases of abandoned projects across the country.

Dikko also said that the delays in clearing of cargoes at the ports constituted impediments to the targets of the Customs Service, especially as it affected revenue generation.

He said he was aware that some of the cases of abandonment were not occasioned by non release of funds for clearing of the cargoes, but resulted from the refusal of some of the agencies to clear the goods in good time.

He said that the only way out of the problem was for government to sanction erring agencies.

Dikko, however, debunked insinuations that the NCS constituted a clog in the wheel of progress of some of its sister agencies, emphasising that the service held nothing against any government agency.

He said that a situation where the service imposed sanctions on individuals and other groups whose cargoes had overstayed in the ports while it does nothing to government agencies amounted to double standards.

He maintained that the NCS was ready to cooperate with other agencies to help clear their cargoes in the ports in good time.

The CBN and the NNPC are some of the state-run agencies with overtime cargoes at the ports.

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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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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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