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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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Maritime

ILO Adopts New Minimum Wage For Seafarers

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In a bid to motivate seafarers globally and improve on their productivities, a subcommittiee of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has agreed to raise the minimum wage for seafarers to up to $673 per month
The new wage was agreed following the conclusion of negotiations between shipowners and seafarers’ unions.
Under the resolution agreed by a subcommittee of the ILO’s Joint Maritime Commission (JMC), the minimum basic wage for able seafarers will increase each year for three years starting in January 2023 until the next meeting of the JMC in 2025.
Under the agreement, the minimum wage will be raised to $658 starting January 1, 2023, $666 in 2024, and $673 in 2025 respectively.
During the previous round of negotiations last September, shipowners and seafarer unions set the minimum wage at $648 per month beginning 1 July 2022.
During those negotiations, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), representing the seafarers, originally asked to increase the minimum wage to $683 per month, up 6.5% or a $1.40 per day from the $641 monthly minimum wage that had been in place since 2018.
But shipowners unions, represented by the International Chamber of Shipping, rejected the offer and put forward a plan to increase wages by just 3% over three years, maxing out at $660 per month in 2024.
“The global seafarer workforce is central to the safe and efficient flow of world trade, and they are among the unsung heroes of the pandemic”, spokesman for Swiss Shipowners Association, Charles Darr, said.
A group  member in the negotiations said the new deal is a win-win for both shipowners and seafarers.
“It strikes a balance between rewarding seafarers for their incredible contributions to the global economy, and ensures, at the same time, that shipping companies are able to remain sustainable and commercially viable in the light of the many challenges we are currently facing and those that lie ahead”, the member said.
Speaking shortly after the agreement, Spokesman for Seafarers group, Mark Dickinson, of Nautilus International, said:
“Today’s agreement recognises the huge sacrifices and professionalism of the men and women working at sea and is a testament to the collective milestones the social partnership between seafarers and shipowners have historically achieved, especially over the past few years.
“We look forward to continuing to work together alongside our social partners to safeguard financial stability for the world’s seafarers,” he said.
ILO insisted that minimum wage is low by most standards in the developed world, and that it is widely recognised by the global shipping industry as being a positive contribution to decent work and employment for the world’s seafarers.
The minimum basic wage standard falls under the ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC 2006), known as the “Seafarers’ Bill of Rights, MLC 2006) which ame into force on 20th August 2013, and has been ratified by 101 ILO member States, representing approximately 96% of global shipping tonnage.
The Joint Maritime Commission (JMC) is a bipartite ILO body comprising employers’ representatives co-ordinated by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and seafarers’ union representatives coordinated by the International Transport Worker’s’ Federation.

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‘Benin River Port To Diversify Nigeria’s Economy’

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The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, says the development of the Benin River Port will guarantee the diversification of the nation’s economy from oil, into a buoyant non-oil sector.
He noted that the Port will improve agriculture and agro-allied businesses.
Obaseki, who stated this through his Special Adviser on Special Media, Mr Crusoe Osagie in Benin City, said the Benin Port, on completion, would place the country on the path to sustainable economic growth.
According to him, the project will facilitate the export of agricultural produce, thereby boosting export earnings and stimulating economic growth and development.
The Port, he explained, would also decongest traffic in Lagos Port and facilitate the distribution of goods produced in Edo to other parts of the country.
The Governor condemned the country’s over-dependence on oil and called for increased investment in agriculture to achieve food security, create jobs and improve the livelihoods of citizens.
“The reason we are building the Benin River Port is because of its huge economic benefits to Edo and Nigeria.
“The port will become the closest to the heart of the country so that we will be able to act as a sponge to get whatever we are producing here across other parts of the country”, he said.
Obaseki said his government is investing in palm oil production to drive its economy, adding “we cannot continue to depend on crude oil.
“Our over-reliance on oil has not increased our global competitiveness. We must intensify efforts to diversify the economy away from (crude) oil”, the Governor concluded.

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NIWA Targets 2m Containers Shipment By 2025

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The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) says it targets a total of two million containers shipment through the Nigerian inland waterways annually by 2025.
Managing Director, NIWA, George Moghalu, disclosed this at a virtual breakfast meeting organised by the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS).
The meeting has as its theme, “Barge Operations System: A Sustainable Alternative to Land Transportation of Cargoes”.
Represented by the General Manager, Marine, NIWA, Mr Joseph Ororo, Moghalu expressed optimism that the vessel fleet, which includes barge and tugs, would surpass 50,000 in three years.
“The future looks very bright for the inland waterway business as we look forward, that, in the next three years, that is, by the year 2025, we aim to achieve two million containers moved through the inland waterways per annum.
“We expect 500 daily trips of vessel traffic to and from the ports, eight million metric tons of cargoes conveyed on the inland waterways per annum, and employment of two million personnel in this sector”, he said.
Moghalu stated that NIWA inspected and registered 332 barges and 264 tugs of different categories nationwide in 2021, adding that the authority would remain focused on encouraging vast job opportunities in the sector.
He transporting of cargoes by barges was a very important development in the country considering the enormous challenges and bottlenecks being witnessed in other modes of transportation.
According to him, though barge was still a developing mode of transportation in Nigeria, they must admit it was not being well regulated at present.
He, therefore, advised that relevant government agencies responsible for these should synergise to ensure that minimum standard operating procedures were put in place to sustain the activities of barge operators.
“From the barge operators’ point of view, which we cannot dispute for now, they posited that 750,000 containers were moved from the Lagos Port by barges on an average of 50 barge trips per day.
“This statistics is very commendable but not fantastic to be cheered about by all standards, considering the enormous potential and advantages Nigeria has in respect of this.
“We strongly feel that more can be done in this respect,” he said.

Stories by Chinedu Wosu

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