Chief Chris Asoluka, a maritime lawyer, last Tuesday, urged the National Assembly to review the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, otherwise known as Cabotage Act.
Asoluka, who presided over a one-day sensitisation forum on Cabotage Act in Lagos, said the National Assembly should remove ambiguities and reinforce the Act where necessary.
“After some nine years, the Act was enacted with much fanfare it would appear that we are yet to reap the anticipated benefits of the Act.
“Secondly, it has become crucial, even for the purpose of legislative oversight that the national assembly should seek to review that piece of legislation, removing as it were noticeable ambiguities, imprecision and areas of conflicts with other sister agencies as well as reinforcing it where necessary.’’
Asoluka wondered why the implementation of the National Shipping Policy, especially the Cabotage Act failed in catalysing shipping development in the country.
The maritime lawyer said that the National Shipping Policy ended up as ‘an abysmal failure’, claiming that the cargo support programme was grossly abused and yielded no impact in terms of improving indigenous participation in the carriage of cargo.
According to him, the National Fleet Expansion Scheme equally failed with the result that the national fleet recorded a decrease and the maritime manpower situation and standard also declined.
He said the situation worsened with the depleting number and quality of seafarers.
“The Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003, was enacted primarily to re-direct national shipping policy thrust or focus from international shipping to coastal or domestic trade.
“So after nine years of enactment and eight years of implementation, one may now ask: why has cabotage regime introduced by the Act failed to empower the Nigerian indigenous shipping?
“Could it be because Nigeria lacks requisite maritime potential and indeed has yet to develop a maritime culture?”
However, in a keynote address, Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi, the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said the agency had recorded modest achievements in cabotage.
Akpobolokemi, who was represented by the Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Mr Adeniran Aderogba, said seven years into operation, cabotage regime was actually improving the participation of Nigerians in the nation’s maritime activities.
“This is not to suggest that we are satisfied with the level we are in the implementation of cabotage, we can do better.’’
In a remark, Mr Ibrahim Zailani, NIMASA Executive Director, Cabotage Services and Maritime Labour, said the promotion of public awareness and enforcement strategies of cabotage required the involvement of all stakeholders.
According to Zailani, co-operation, exchange and supply of information and intelligence between key stakeholders is paramount if cabotage is to be a channel for economic advancement and shared prosperity.
Five Abducted MWUN Members, Three Others Regain Freedom
The five kidnapped members of the Nigeria Maritime Workers Union, (MWUN) in Rivers State have regained their freedom from their captors.
The five maritime workers were released along with three other passengers that were kidnapped along Kula-Abonema waterway in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, last Monday.
.Their release was secured on Saturday evening sequel to the intervention of the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh, and other stakeholders.
Jamoh broke the news of their unconditional release in a statement to newsmen on Saturday night.
The NIMASA boss, shortly after the release of the abducted five, informed the President-General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, at about 8:15 pm through a telephone conversation.
The abductees, Jamoh said, were all in good physical condition, saying the MWUN President General would provide a detailed report on the incidents surrounding the abduction early last week.
Jamoh did not, however, disclose if any ransom was paid to the abductors before securing their release.
The Tide recalls that the eight victims, including five MWUN members, were whisked away by gunmen suspected to be sea robbers while travelling from Kula in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State to Port Harcourt for a meeting.
The hoodlums were said to have demanded for N10 million ransom to free their victims.
But the MWUN leadership in Rivers State vowed not to pay any ransom to the abductors of its five staff, and instead demanded for their unconditional release.
The union chairman, Comrade Jonah Jumbo, had given a 30-day ultimatum to the kidnappers to free its members, failure of which, the union would shut down all maritime operations in the state.
“In one month, if they are not released, we will shut down all maritime operations in the state”, he had threatened.
By: Chinedu Wosu
IMO Vows To Stop Piracy In GoG
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.
Seafarers Lament Effects Of Covid-19
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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