Maersk Nigeria Limited has decried its suspension by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), over a purported lack of holding bay for empty containers, describing the action as misguided.
NPA had suspended the shipping services of Maersk Line, Cosco Shipping, APS and Lansal shipping companies for 10 days for allegedly not having functional holding bays for their empty containers.
But in an advisory issued by Maersk on Monday, the company said it has four functional holding bays in Lagos, with a storage capacity of 8,150 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).
“It is misguiding for NPA to suspend Maersk Nigeria Limited for failing to acquire and operate holding bays for empty containers, as Maersk Nigeria Limited operates four holding bays within the Lagos environ with a storage capacity of 8,150 TEUs which is more than 50 per cent of the discharge average.
Maersk Nigeria Limited has complied fully with this directive, and has followed the Call-Up protocol for use of the holding bays stipulated by NPA.
“Nigeria as an import dependent nation will certainly see imported containers discharged in the country in volumes and in line with the tenet of international trade.
With limited infrastructure and other alternatives for evacuation of imports, return of empties, and return of full exports, it is challenging for these containers to be adequately handled, which results in the congestion of the access roads,” the company said.
Maersk also disclosed that it was in dialogue and consultation with relevant authorities, and “we expect the steps we are taking together with Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), will reassure them of our storage capacity”.
It added, “As an active and abiding corporate organisation, Maersk Nigeria Limited will continue to work in full cooperation with all relevant authorities in Nigeria and to offer sustainable services and operations to its valued customers.”
A spokesman for NPA in a statement by Isah Suwaid, said: “The suspension, follows the Authority’s checks, which revealed that the four companies have failed to fully comply with the directive to acquire and operate holding bays as they have either failed to utilise their holding bays at all or do not have adequate capacity to handle the volume of containers that they deal with.
“Some of these companies have also been found to import a larger number of containers than empty containers exported thereby making the country a dumping ground for empties.
“These conducts have contributed to the persistent congestion around the Lagos Port Complex and the Tin Can Island Port, spreading to other parts of the Lagos metropolis. “
Maritime Insecurity: ANLCA Wants Govts To Engage Youths
The National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Hon. Tony Iju Nwabunike, has advised governments at all levels to engage youths in coastal communities to support security operatives in the fight against sea robbery and other crimes along the inland waterways.
Nwabunike made the call last Friday while presenting a paper at the 8th Nigeria Annual Transport Lecture organised by Transport Day Newspapers, in Lagos.
In the paper tagged “Blue Economy: Pathway For Nigeria’s Economic Diversification”, the ANLCA boss reiterated the need to engage youths in coastal communities in the fight against piracy and other crimes on the waterways.
According to him, “Government should, as a matter of policy, involve youths of coastal communities in a kind of Civilian Task Force to support the Navy and other security agencies in nipping our maritime insecurity in the bud”.
Nwabunike noted that the nation’s maritime domain was insecure due to inadequate security platforms like patrol boats, aircrafts and supporting technology gadgets, as well as lesser number of personnel to implement or enforce adherence to security on waterways.
According to him, maritime piracy, sea robbery, oil theft, kidnapping on waters have been copiously recorded in the domain that should naturally contribute to the nation’s economic well-being.
“I am almost tempted to say that our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is no longer exclusive to us because the people I choose to call maritime bandits are threatening our space.
“I am aware that the Federal Government through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency is rising to the occasion with planned deployment of advanced security assets to energise our blue economy. I believe it will work if consciously sustained. This they tagged the ‘Deep Blue Project’.
“It is anticipated that this move will go a long way in fighting piracy and other maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea and our country’s entire territorial waters”, he said.
The ANLCA President pointed out that safety of vessels, cargoes and crews on the maritime space have direct impacts on the overall economy since the maritime sector is critical in the areas of trade, investment, employment and recreation.
He affirmed that the 853km Nigeria coastline runs through seven southern states of Lagos, Ondo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross Rivers bordering the Atlantic Ocean, adding that these are aside other states that are linked by inland waters for copious socio-cultural and commercial activities.
While urging the government to look beyond oil and gas to sustain the economy, Nwabunike said that the Nigerian maritime industry, being the nation’s second highest revenue earner, has the potential of cushioning the temporary effects of inadequate oil revenue.
By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
Pirates Abduct Five Seafarers
No fewer than five seafarers have been kidnapped by suspected sea pirates in the Gulf of Guinea onboard a sea vessel.
The pirates attacked a vessel code name F/V ATLANTIC PRINCESS with IMO number 8124412 at 65 nautical miles in South Tema, Ghana.
This was contained in a travel advisory issued by an international agency, Dryad Global, at the weekend.
The vessel was understood to have been approached by one speedboat with eight pirates onboard. The vessel was reportedly fired upon prior to being boarded by five armed men. It was later hijacked and sailed south to a distance of 100 nautical miles before pirates departed the vessel, the agency said.
Among the abducted seafarers are three Chinese, one Russian and one Korean.
Dryad Global said, “This latest attack ends a significant hiatus of activity within the Gulf of Guinea. This latest attack is the first kidnapping incident since 15th March, 2021. Thus far within 2021, there have been 56 personnel kidnapped across five incidents from vessels operating within the Gulf of Guinea.
“This latest incident represents the furthest westerly kidnapping within the Gulf of Guinea to date. Trends across the past 18 months have indicated a broadening of the piratical footprint within the Gulf of Guinea, beyond the traditional heartland of the Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)”.
The agency went further to say that “Reports from crew members indicate that two hours prior to the attack, a rusted looking mini tanker vessel was sighted far off the horizon with the AIS off. The vessel is understood to have manoeuvred away from the suspicious tanker.
“Further but unverifiable reporting indicates that the crew had identified the pirates as Nigerians. Given the significant distance of the incident from Nigerian waters, it remains a realistic possibility that the vessel sighted by the crew was being used as a mothership from which to launch and sustain deep offshore operations”.
Recall that the assets acquisition and installation phase of Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project moved towards completion with the delivery of one of the two special mission aircrafts for the project.
The Cessna CJ3 Citation jet for maritime surveillance was received in Lagos ahead of the scheduled launch of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, commonly called the Deep Blue Project, on May 21.
The Deep Blue Project aims to prevent illegal activities in the Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), enforce maritime regulations, enhance the safety of lives at sea, and prevent illegal activities in the inland waterways.
By: Chinedu Wosu
Nigeria’s Security Challenges Require More Actions, Less Talk -Naval Chief
The Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Awwal Gambo, says the nation’s security challenges now require more actions and less talk from the security agencies.
The Naval Chief stated this during a visit by the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris, to the Defence Headquarters, recently.
In a statement signed by the Director, Information, Press and Public Relations to the AGF, Henshaw Ogubike, the Chief of Naval Staff was quoted as saying that the security challenges in the country were not insurmountable, but required more action, less talk.
The AGF, in his remarks, acknowledged the enormous responsibility saddled with the Nigerian Navy and other Armed Forces, and assured them of the continuous support of the federal treasury.
According to him, the nation’s treasury will ensure timely release of funds to the Armed Forces to enable them secure the country’s territorial waters and sovereignty.
“The Nigerian Navy and other Armed Forces have kept the country one in terms of discharge of their duties. Your responsibility is enormous, you need every support.
“We will continue to support you by giving you the necessary tools for you to deliver”, he assured.
Idris congratulated the Naval Chief on his recent appointment and stressed that no effort would be spared to sustain the cordial relationship that is existing between the Nigeria Armed Forces and the federal treasury.
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