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Nigerian Maritime Report

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The cost of cargo shipment from Asia to the United States of America west coast routes may
increase by $400 as from the 1st of May, 2011. This is as a result of an agreement reached by A.P. Moeller Maersk A/S, the world’s largest container line, and 14 other shipping companies to push for the hike  as a result of rebounding global economy which is reviving cargo demand.

The planned increase is part of voluntary guidelines covering talks for contracts generally starting around May 1, the Transpacific Stabililzation Agreement said in a statement on its website yesterday.

The shipping group, which has limited antitrust immunity, also recommended a peak-season surcharge of $400 per box. Asia-US shipping volumes have surged in the past two quarters and may rise from 6 percent to 9 percent next year, the group said, as the economic pick-up stokes US demand for Chinese-made furniture, toys and clothing.

The shipping lines plan to seek higher rates after the global recession hammered trade demand, causing industry-wide losses.

“Two strong quarters in the transpacific –  a highly competitive freight market with very thin margins –  still do not fully offset two years of heavy losses,” Y.M. Kim, chairman of the TSA and chief executive officer of Seoul-based Hanjin Shipping Co., said in the statement.

“We said last year that we would not seek to recover all our losses in one year.” Asia-U.S. shipping volumes may rise 12 percent this year, the TSA said.

Capacity has increased 19 percent since November, 2009, the group said, citing AXS Alphaliner
data. In the first three quarters of the year, 15 new and restored services began sailing, including three new operators, it said.

Shipping lines also face rising costs for labor, container handling, inland transport, and for buying and leasing cargo- boxes amid a global shortage, the group said. The appreciation of Asian currencies has also hit shipping lines that charge rates in dollar, it said. Other lines in the TSA are Neptune Orient Lines Ltd.  APL Ltd. unit, China Shipping Container Lines Co., CMA-CGM SA, China Cosco Holdings Co., Evergreen Marine Corp., Hapag Lloyd AG, Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd., Mediterranean Shipping Co., Nippon Yusen K.K., Orient Overseas (International) Ltd., Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. and Israel Corp.’s Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd.

Minister charge new CRFFN leadership to attract business

Minister of Transport, Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman, has charged the new leadership of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to ensure that they work at improving freight forwarding business in the country to better the nation’s economy.

The Minister gave the charge in Abuja Thursday while inaugurating the new leadership of the CRFFN after the elections.

Suleiman noted that only enforcement of the regulations of the profession can lead to improvement which will in turn lead to improved freight forwarding business in the country with their foreign counterparts beginning to have confidence in them.

To achieve this he continued, he told the council’s leadership to ensure training and retraining of all freight forwarders in the country to ensure professionalism.

Commending the immediate past leadership under Tony Iju Nwabudike for moving the Council to the point of recognition at the international level, the Minister told new leaders of the Council to build on the successes of the past leadership to further move the Council even to a greater height.

Responding, the newly elected Chairman, Alhaji Hakeem Olarinwaju, who was also the immediate past Vice Chairman, promised to continue with the programme put in place by the former leadership. He also solicited the support of all the Council members as well as freight
forwarders in the country to ensure that the purpose and aspirations of practitioners come to fruition.

Operations at APMT threatened over 3 grounded cranes

Unless urgent steps are taken, operations at the APM Terminal which is the biggest
container terminal in the country would soon be grounded following the breakdown of
its three LHM 500 cranes.

Investigation revealed that as a result of the broken down cranes, the private
terminal operator has now resorted to using visiting ships’ cranes for discharge. A
source close to the management told DDH that the conditions of the
cranes are so bad that the company has resolved to scrap them.

However, media consultant to APMT, Mr. Bolaji Akinola in his reaction to the above
said that it is not true that the company is presently relying on visiting ship
cranes to discharge their consignments.

He explained that although it is true that the company is scrapping some cranes
 the ones that are being scrapped are not the ones brought in recently. He noted
that scrapping of equipment is not wrong but shows efficiency on the part of the
company’s management.

According to him, “every equipment has a life span after which they can be
depreciated over a period of time. It’s like when you buy a car and the life span of
the car is four years, you cannot be blamed for scrapping the car, can you?”

He also noted that the scrapping is part of management’s measure of improving
operations, stressing further that the scrapping does not mean that they are relying
on visiting ships cranes for their operations.

Bolaji pointed out that APMT management still has a lot of cranes for their operations, including mobile harbour cranes and rubber tyre gantry cranes for smooth port operations.   

He also explained that the company actually advertised the scrapping of the cranes
and that there is nothing wrong with their action.   

Nigerian ports concession exercise a security risk— NAGAFF

Following the recent importation of massive arms and ammunition through the port in
Lagos, President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight
Forwarders (NAGAFF), Mr. Nwoke, has said that government made a fundamental mistake
in its concession of the nation’s port terminal by giving out 100 percent stake to
foreigners. This he noted makes it easy for the importation of anything into the
country without government knowledge, especially with the poor security situation at
the nation’s seaports and border areas.

Nwoke said despite complaints by stakeholders against government move then, the
federal government still went ahead to give the terminals to mostly foreigners.

The NAGAFF boss explained that similar exercises around the world are done with
the security of their state in mind and therefore majority stake were given out to
allow for private sector expertise.

Speaking at a joint press briefing by National President of the Association of
Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu and NAGAFF’s
President recently in Lagos,  Nwoke explained that in neighbouring  Ghana, the
Ghanian government decided to concession one of its two ports.

He further said that even the one which the Ghanaian government decided to concession was
not given out totally but was given to two private terminal operators, one foreign
and the other indigenous, to guard against monopoly.

The NAGAFF helmsman also disclosed that the Ghanian government did not stop there
but held back a minority stake, for security reasons.

He stressed the need for all the security operatives in the country, especially those in the ports to redouble their efforts in the area of sharing information and relating with their international counterparts to ensure that they are on top of all security threats to the nation.

Merchant Navy moves to sanitize personnel’s activities

Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association has put
in motion actions to bring sanity to activities of its personnel, and has concluded
plans to commence verification and re-accreditation of all its members.

President of the association, Captain Thomas Kemewerigha, who disclosed this at the
August edition of Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN) Roundtable in
Apapa, Lagos, said that the action has become necessary because some unregistered
bodies with similar names are going about parading themselves as authentic merchant
navy officers, even to the level of sponsoring a bill at the National Assembly
seeking for government recognition.

According to him, “during the verification, all genuine members of the association
must come forth and submit their identity cards before January 2011, the specimens
of the new identification card will be sent to security agencies before it is issued
for our members. Also a website will be opened for the association where members of
the public can access information on the association and members.”

Kemewerigha noted that the actions of these merchant bodies like Nigerian Merchant
Navy Security Organisation, Merchant Navy Academy are contrary to international
standards and ethics of merchant profession, which his body, an affiliate of the
International Transport Federation (ITF) London and other organizations, are

According to Kemewerigha, “most of these unlawful and unregistered merchant bodies
are engaged in activities that are not seaborne activities, that a recognized and
registered merchant officer engages in. These people engage in pipeline protection,
which is far from normal official duty of a merchant officer.”

He added that one of the interloper bodies said it has over three thousand merchant
officers as members, maintaining that these officers are not qualified and are
graduates of fake nautical schools scattered all over the country.

Captain Thomas Kemewerigha said these fake officers were being recruited as thugs
for politicians in preparation for the 2011 elections.

The merchant officer noted that some members of these fake bodies had been arrested
by the Police and charged to court and he was invited as witness.

Enumerating other efforts the association had made to curb activities of the fake
bodies, Captain Thomas said the Presidency and the Police had been petitioned.

On lack of job for its members, Kemewerigha said the problem is caused by government
granting waivers to foreign vessels that often claim that Nigerian Merchant officers
are not competent and as result of this, the vessel owners employ expatriates, contrary to
 the Cabotage law.

He added that the indigenous ship owners are not helping the matter as majority of
their vessels are old and substandard and this is why they could not get job from
NNPC and other oil companies.  He called on NIMASA to stop registration of
sub-standard ships.

Group petition Presidency over concession regulation function

A group under the aegis of National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed
Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), have petitioned the presidency over the conflicting roles
of concession regulation in the maritime industry, even as it faulted the
constitution of the task force to look at operations of concessionaires at the ports
by the Ministry of Transport.

The group in a letter signed by its President, Mr. Lucky Amiwero, stressed that it
is the function of the Infrastructure Concession Regulation Commission (ICRC) to
regulate the activities of concessionaires in the port in accordance with the
Section 20 (b) of its establishing Act.

Sector 36 of the Act states that concession as “a contractual arrangement
whereby the project proponent or contractor undertakes the construction, including
financing of any infrastructure, facility and operation and maintenance thereof and
shall include the supply of any equipment and machinery for any infrastructure
provisions of service,” the group stated. 

The group noted that the Act states that the Commission should “ensure efficient
execution of any concession agreement or contract entered into by the government.”

It therefore faulted the formation of the task force by the Ministry of Finance which membership
it explained is too limited in scope. 

NCMDLCA noted that various agencies operating in the ports have overlapping
legislative jurisdiction, which requires the direct intervention of the Presidency
and their various ministries as regards their role in the port.

The group pointed out that any body set up for the purpose of assessment of the
operations of the port must derive its powers from the Presidency and the
cooperation of other ministries that are in direct control of port procedure and
process; and not just custodians of the cargo like the terminal operators, shipping
companies and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

However, stakeholders in the industry disagree with the position of the group,
explaining that the criticized move is in the right direction.

Chairman of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigerian
(CRFFN), Tony Nwabudike, told DDH that the Ministry of Transport do not only
have the right to establish the task force but that it is doing a very good job.

According to him, all the relevant stakeholders were present at the inaugural
meeting leading to the setting up of the task force. These, he pointed out includes,
Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), National Association of
Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), NCMDLCA (represented by its
president Ejiofo) etc.

Similarly, National President of ANLCA, Prince Olayewola Shittu, agreed that the
composition of the task force was deliberately “limited to those who cannot be
compromised. It is a fact finding team whose report the minister is tabling before
all stakeholders.”
Shittu further noted that “there is no denying the fact that the task force is
impacting positively on the maritime landscape.”

TICT acquires two new 500 ton cranes to boost operation

Tincan Island Container Terminal management has acquired two new mobile cranes with
500 tons capacity to strengthen its cargo clearance operations, it commercial
manager, Mr. Richard Akinbosotu, has said.

Akinbosotu disclosed this while unveiling the cranes to the Mrs. Chinwe Ezenwa-led
Ministerial Task-force on port concession who were there on a fact-finding mission to ports to unravel the causes of high charges.

He told the Task-force that with the new machine, the terminal would be able to
provide work satisfaction for its customers, enhance vessel turn-around time and
reduce waiting time of vessels.

He pointed out that by mid-July (2011), the terminal management would acquire six new
Rubber Tyre Gantry (GTR) cranes for easy delivery of containers.

According to Akinbosotu, “with this investment in new plants, our target is to have
one of the best terminals in the world. When the GRT cranes are delivered, it will
be easier for us to deliver up to one thousand units of containers to their
respective importers daily.”

He said the  operational cost of the terminal is too expensive as TICT management spends
a lot of money on fuel to provide electricity 24 hours a day  in the terminal,
noting that this and other running costs contributed greatly to high costs of doing
business in the nation’s ports.

On access road to the port, Akinbosotu said the bad state of Tin-can port road has made
free flow of cargo in and out of the terminal difficult, saying that this causes a lot of heavy vehicular traffic daily, which further contributes to high cost of port operations.

He appealed to the Task-force to prevail on NPA to put in place necessary
infrastructures like road, independent power project around Tin-can to complement
TICT investment and other terminals, stressing that this would help to reduce
operational costs generally.

On how to improve delivery, Akinbosotu said they would have loved to deliver
containers seven days of the week including Sunday but Customs do not work on
Sunday.  He urged the Task-force to advise the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to
include Saturday and Sunday on their working schedule.

The Task-force expressed satisfaction with infrastructure the management of the
terminal has provided to enhance cargo movement, insisting that the management must
comply with the government’s directive on port charges.

FG charged to dredge Calabar port channel to improve shipping activities, employment.

The Federal Government has been charged to dredge the Calabar port channel as a matter
of urgency to improve shipping activities in the state, as well as create employment
opportunities for youths in the country.

The charge came from stakeholders who met in Calabar recently to look at the
economic benefits of dredging the Calabar port channel. In a communique at the end
of the one-day enlightenment forum, it called on government to urgently dredge the channel
because low draft of channel to the port has rendered it incapable of handling
vessels above 10,000 deadweight.

The stakeholders at the forum put together by the Maritime Reporters’ Association
of Nigeria (MARAN), stressed the importance of dredging the channel since it is
strategically located to service South East, North East and some countries in the
Central African sub-region.

Apart from the low channel, the stakeholders also noted that the low patronage of
Calabar Port was caused by very poor access roads and lack of rail links. They therefore
called for the dualization of the access road to Calabar and the impediment posed by
the Ikom Bridge should be corrected allow ship movement.

They noted that the dredging of the Calabar channel will help de-congest the Lagos ports, the port being the second Roll-on, Roll-off (RoRo) port in Nigeria, as well as provide incentives to attract importers and ship owners in form of rebates, reduction of port dues/levies and pilotage dues.

Government should consider all the technical options regarding the dredging of the Calabar Port channel, even as they urged the beneficiaries of the dredging projects (the litoral states) to be more committed to the project. Cross River State government especially should show greater commitment to the issue of the dredging of the Calabar channel, it concluded.

We want to improve the nation’s revenue from import/export duties — ANLCA boss

National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents {ANLCA},
Prince Olayiwola Shittu, has said that the Association intends to improve the revenue
derivable to the federal government by ensuring that actual duties are paid on all
goods imported or export into or out of the country.

Shittu, who disclosed this in Lagos yesterday, explained that the Association intends
to achieve this by ensuring that clearing agents adhere to professionalism in the
performance of their duties.

To ensure actualisation of the desire, the ANLCA boss noted that they have lined up a seminar as part of its National Executive Council {NEC} meeting coming up in Abuja on the 28th of October in Abuja. Speaking on the seminar, Chairman of the NEC Organising Committee, Dr. Oparah Emmanuel Ogu, stressed that it is the same reason that made the Association to
collaborate with the Nigeria Customs Service {NCS).

Oparah noted that the collaboration would help prepare and enlighten both bodies so
that the right thing is done in the performance of their duties in the ports and
border areas. He pointed out that the seminar topic is “Customs and Licensed
Agents/Brokers Synergy: An Imperative for Trade Facilitation and Optimum Revenue

The Chairman of the NEC organising Committee also disclosed that they decided to
move the seminar to Abuja because of the desire of the Association to enlighten
senior government officials and policy makers of the important role of agents duty
to the economy of the nation.

To this end, he continued, the Ministers of Finance, Transport and their counterpart
in the Interior are expected to be guests at the seminar.

Similarly, top officials of the National Assembly, including the Senate President, David Mark, Speaker of the House of Representative, Dimeji Bankole and other principal officiers whose
functions are related to activities in the ports (were being invited).

Duncan Maritime Drags NPA to court over illegal occupation.

Duncan Maritime Services, operators of Duncan Bonded Terminal has dragged the
management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to the federal high court in Lagos
over illegal occupation of the facility for 14 days, an action it claimed that resulted in the
loss of N1.8 billion.

Disclosing this to DH, the Managing Director of Duncan Maritime Ventures
Nigeria Ltd., Dr. Godfrey Shitgurum, wondered why the management of the NPA would order the port police command to go chase out its workers and other government security agencies working at the terminal and allowing hoodlums to take over the place.

Shitgurum noted that the closure of the terminal for 14 days had prevented them from
not only performing their function to their customers but also deprived the ship
that would have stemmed at the terminal from doing so.
He pointed out that all importers and their agents who stemmed their cargoes at
the terminal were unable to clear their goods and such cargo owners would be
forced to pay demurrage on their cargoes for a fault that is not theirs.

The Duncan boss noted that NPA and Duncan had an agreement over the property but the
Former, under Chief Adebayo Sarumi, had wanted to handover the property to Landwood
Nigeria Ltd, prompting Duncan to challenge the action in court.

Following the forceful occupation, however, Duncan management petitioned to the Comptroller
General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to intimate the service of the development.

In the letter dated September 7, 2010 and signed by Larry Peters Bawa, the Executive
Director of Duncan, said “ The above premises has been a subject of litigation between us and Nigerian ports Plc in suit No. FHC/L/CS/708/05 since 2005 when NPA attempted to illegally eject our company from the above premises.” “The federal High Court sitting coram Hon. Justice Tijuni Abukarkar on 20th January, 2009 gave judgement in favour of Duncan Maritime Ventures Ltd.”

It would be recalled that officers of the Port Police Command had laid siege to Duncan Bonded Terminal located within the Tin-can Island Port. When DDH visited the facility last week, there were about 15 police officer standing guard at the entrance of the terminal preventing people, including port users wishing to transact business, from entering the terminal.

One of the officers who spoke with DDH said they were given order to come and maintain peace at the terminal and directed our reporter to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Tin-can Island Police Command.

Although efforts to see the DPO of Tin-can Island was unsuccessful, the Port Police
Commissioner, Hillary Opara, told DDH on phone that the presence of the police officers is as a result of a directive from the legal department of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

According to Opara, there is a dispute over the ownership of the facility and the presence of the officers is to ensure that the properties in the terminal are not vandalised. He further explained that a meeting has been scheduled for Thursday between the police and all the aggrieved parties at the port. He noted that soon an amicable settlement would be reached to allow operations to commence once more at the terminal.

However, DDH gathered that trouble stated last week when a company Landwood
Nigeria Ltd. in connivance with the Estate Manager of Tin-can Island Port of the NPA
and some top management staff, told the Port Police Commissioner that some people were occupying the  property in question illegally.

A source close to the Tin-can Port told DDH that the Police Commissioner had released some officers to dislodge occupants including officials of NPA, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), staff of Duncan etc from the facility.

Unknown to the Commissioner, the ownership of the terminal has been in dispute and the case has been in court in the last couple of years.