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Boat Operators Become Taxi Drivers Over Sea Piracy

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L-R: Comptroller, Western Marine, Yusuf Umar,  Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Ali Hameed (rtd) and a stakeholder on a courtesy visit to Western Marine Command, Lagos, recently.

L-R: Comptroller, Western Marine, Yusuf Umar, Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Ali Hameed (rtd) and a stakeholder on a courtesy visit to Western Marine Command, Lagos, recently.

The unabated activities of
of sea pirates and armed robbers on the waterways and creeks within Rivers and Bayelsa States seem to have reached its crescendo with some speedboat operators selling their engine boats and venturing into road transport business.
An impeceable source who revealed this to The Tide correspondent at the Bonny, Bille, Nembe  waterfront in Port Harcourt Friday said the speedboat operators abandoned their trade for  safety of their lives and property as well following the incessant  activities of the hoodlums at sea.
The source said no week passed without one sea pirate attack and that it had forced many people to either abandon the marine transportation business, while those whose engines and boats have been hijacked are now in the labour market looking for a means of livelihood.
The Tide was also informed that the area was witnessing a lull in passengers travelling through the routes to their riverine communities, as they rather choose to travel by road to a nearby community before finding their ways to their homes.
It was learnt that the situation is even worse with petty traders who come to Port Harcourt to purchase what to sell in the riverine communities, as they pay exorbitant transport fares on such troubled routes.
The source, who pleaded anonymity for security reasons also revealed that all appeals made to the government to provide marine gun boats at strategic places of the waterways and creeks proved abortive, while the only security personnel that patrol the creeks were concerned with either illegal oil bunkering activities or escorting vessels in or out of the coast.
According to the source, the activities of these sea pirates had become alarming as lives of marine passengers and their operators are no longer safe, while properties worth thousands were carted away from the innocent victims.

 

Collins Barasiemeye

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Maritime

Dockworkers’ Election: Shun Violence, Trustee Urges Members

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Ahead of the forthcoming Port Harcourt District Dockworkers elections scheduled to hold on 3rd February, 2022, a trustee of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Comrade Harry Waite, has called on members to do everything possible to have a hitch-free election.
Waite, who made the call during an exclusive interview in Port Harcourt, noted that the election is long overdue, hence, the need for members to comport themselves appropriately, to prevent unwarranted occurrences.
Dockworkers election”, he said, “is not by selection, but a process where workers would elect candidates of their choice, devoid of malpractice.
“This election is different from selection. it is not a community election. It’s only workers that filled forms and completed the election procedures that will be voted for. We are not for community selections. So, do the right thing and let us have a free, fair, and trouble-free election”, he said.
He appealed to members from all the zones to come out enmass and vote candidates of their choice, insisting that only accredited dockworkers of the zone would be cleared and allowed to cast their votes for the candidates of their choice.
The election, he said, is slated to hold in the Atlantic Hall of Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, on the 3rd February.
The Port Harcourt District Dockworkers comprises Port Harcourt, Onne, Calabar, Warri and Uyo Zones.

By: Chinedu Wosu

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Maritime

SOAN Expels Member Over Indebtedness

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Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) says it has expelled one of its members, Oil Flow Nigeria Ltd, over failure to refund to the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) monies received as payment for sea experience services.
Speaking on the expulsion, President of SOAN, Dr Mkgeorge Onyung, said Oil Flow Nigeria Ltd had been expelled from the Association after all efforts failed to make the company see the reason for the money to be refunded.
“In as much as I won’t like to join issues with the Rector over this matter, it is important that everybody knows that SOAN as a body did everything possible to make Oil Flow Nigeria Ltd refund the Academy.
“The Academy entered into an agreement with individual shipowners, who are members of SOAN, to provide sea experience opportunity for cadets of the Academy.
“SOAN as a body did not collect money from the Academy, it was an agreement entered into individually with shipowners who are SOAN members. So, that a member of SOAN refused to refund money collected from the Academy for sea experience services does not make every member of SOAN bad?
“For example, if a student or some students of the Academy go against the law of the school, does it make all the cadets of the school bad? No. So, for the Rector to categorise the whole of SOAN over the misdeed of one member is wrong.
“The SOAN leadership has been very cooperative with the Academy over this issue. What we have done is that we have expelled the erring member over this issue.
“The man has been expelled from SOAN and will only be re-admitted after he rectifies this issue because he is a shipowner. It is just unfortunate that the Rector said he is not going to deal with SOAN again because of this issue”, Onyung said.
Earlier, Rector of the Academy, Commodore Duja Effedua, affirmed that Oil Flow Nigeria Ltd collected money from the Academy to provide sea experience services to cadets of the school, but failed to provide such services and also did not refund the money like some other indigenous shipowners.
“The truth is that I am no more interested in that agreement with SOAN. I had good intentions and we started well, but one company, Oil Flow Nigeria Limited decided to defraud the Academy.
“The company took money but did not provide the required sea experience as stated in the agreement. Rather than refund the money like others who couldn’t meet up with the agreement, Oil Flow Nigeria Ltd chose to go to court.
“I am so disappointed because the owner of that company has children. Why would you deprive the children of other Nigerians opportunity for progress in life? Some companies collected money from us, but because they had a very busy schedule and there was no space to train our cadets, they returned the money.
“Oil Flow was tossing us up and down. They will ask us to come to Lagos, we will be in Lagos, and then they will say we should come to Port Harcourt.
“At a point, we had to ask them to give us our money because the siwes programme which was for four months was already over. We had to take the company to court and the case is still in court as we speak”, Effedua said.

By: Chinedu Wosu

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Maritime

Customs Commissions 18 Patrol Boats To Fight Smuggling …Hails New Scanning Machine In One Port

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has commissioned 18 patrol boats to fight smugglers who terrorise the Southern, Eastern and Western waterways of the country.
Comptroller General, Customs, Hameed Ali, stated this during the commissioning of the boats constructed and built by SEWA West Africa in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Ali said the boats, which comprise of nine gunboats and nine logistics boats, were serious signals to criminals.
According to him, the boats, which have high functionalities, are an addition to the Service’s marine arsenal at a time smugglers are running away from the heat on land.
“I feel highly elated to be with you and most importantly, to commission the 18 creek patrol boats.
“The addition of these boats to the Service Marine arsenal at a time when more smugglers are running away from the heat on land to water is simply the right thing to do.
“This event, no doubt, marks the beginning of a renewed offensive against those who chose creeks and waterways as safe haven for their illegal trade.
“The 18 creeks patrol boats, consisting of nine logistic support boats and nine gunboats whose parts are armoured, should send clear signals to the criminals that the game is up.
“Unlike before, we now have boats with flat bottoms that can access the creeks even when the water has receded.” Ali said.
The Comptroller-General noted that NCS tapped into the ingenuity of a Nigerian company, SEWA, to design, construct and build the edifices in-line with Executive Order on Local Content of 2017.
“As you can see, these boats are not only built with our weather and circumstances in mind, they can compete with similar ones built anywhere in the world”, he stated.
He used the opportunity to acknowledge what cordial relationships can lead to in Nigeria.
“The relationship between NCS and SEWA represents excellent examples of what Nigerians can achieve when we come together.
“I, therefore, commend SEWA for delivering on their promise and have no hesitation to recommend them to individuals or organizations that need what they are capable of producing.
“As we commission these boats, which will be deployed for the Southern waters (the Eastern and Western Marine Commands). I urge our marine operatives to use them judiciously in the interest of the nation”, he said.
Ali, however, noted that even with the best of working tools, the NCS’ efforts will not yield maximum output without the cooperation and commitment of Nigerians.
At Onne Port, where he inspected a scanning machine recently acquired by the Federal Government to aid cargo inspection, Ali said the scanner would facilitate trade and reduce the issue of importation of contraband goods.
He said the scanning machine would reduce cost and time spent on inspection of containers.

By: Chinedu Wosu

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