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4,400 Migrants Die Enroute Spain Waters

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An estimated 4,400 migrants, including about 205 children, were lost at sea while trying to cross to Spain in 2021.
A monitoring group, Walking Borders, also known as  Caminando Fronteras, in a statement  said the figures doubled that of 2020, and is the highest since the group began counting in 2018.
The group blamed such factors as increasingly dangerous routes, inferior boats and the fear of some vessels to help migrants at sea for the surge in deaths.
According to Spanish official statistics, 39,000 undocumented migrants successfully reached Spain by sea or land last year, a similar figure to the previous year.
Walking Borders said more than 90% of those missing or dead were lost on 124 shipwrecks en route Spain’s Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean as of December 2020.
Since 2020, the islands off the coast of Africa have become the main destination for migrants trying to reach Spain, with a much smaller share trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to the Spanish mainland.
Helena Maleno, founder of Caminando Fronteras, said the group gathered its data from hotlines set up for migrants on vessels in trouble to call for help, and from family members seeking information.
The group investigates the fate of each boat. It presumes those missing at sea for at least a month to be dead, noting that close to 95% of the figures represent people who are missing.
The United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM) counted 955 people who died or went missing in 2021 trying to reach the Canary Islands by December 22, the highest figure it documented since 2014.
The statement said the IOM obtains its data from official records, media reports and other groups, including Walking Borders, but says its numbers are conservative and the real toll is probably higher.
The Interior Ministry’s spokesperson  said, Spain does not keep figures for people who die trying to reach its shores, as he  declined to comments on the latest figures.

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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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