SAL Fights Dirty, Alleges Shippers’ Council’s Manipulation Over APMT’s  N13bn Refund

SAL Fights Dirty, Alleges Shippers’ Council’s Manipulation Over APMT’s  N13bn Refund

*Nigeria opts out of 2023 IMO’s council election

*Seeks supports for 2025 bid

* NPA Port Community System Will Support Blue Economy Potentials – Bello-Koko

The Board of Trustees and the Executive of Shippers’ Association of Lagos State(SAL) have been fighting dirty over N13billion accumulated Storage charges ordered by court to refund to Nigerian shippers.

But the past and current executives of SAL has accused the Nigerian Shippers’ Council(NSC) of undue gross manipulation and interference into the affairs of the association, leading to layers of crises to the extent of factionalizing the current executive on one hand and the board of trustees on the other hand, pitching the factions against one another, thereby creating instability to have reasons to call for mediation.   

Nigerian shippers had secured favorable judgement from both Federal High Court, Lagos and Appeal Court for the refund of storage fees by thirteen port terminal operators who have opted for out-of-court even as the case is currently in Supreme Court. NSC led SAL to institute the case terminal operators and shipping companies meant to refund N3trillion as shipping line agency charges(SLAC) to shippers as directed by court ruling.

Among them, APM Terminals has been confirmed to have negotiated for the refund of N13billion  payable into the Cargo Defence Fund(CDF) account. Stay tuned as MMS Plus unravel more surprises this weekend.

Meanwhile, Nigeria has opted out of the 2023 International Maritime Organisation(IMO)  Council election. The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola who led the Nigerian delegation to the 33 General Assembly in London  informed the Assembly of Nigeria’s intention to seek election into the Category C of the IMO Council in 2025. He, therefore, sought the support and votes of member states of the organization. 

 Oyetola has restated the commitment of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration to reposition the nation’s maritime sector in line with its agenda for economic growth and development. 

He disclosed that his ministry had already mapped out plans on how to revamp the maritime industry, noting that the plans cover areas such as security, marine environment management, climate action and human capital development. 

The minister made the remarks on Monday while addressing member states of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) at the 33rd session of its General Assembly in London, according to statement released by his spokesperson, Ismail Omipidan. 

This is even as the Secretary General of IMO, Kitack Lim, commended President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for creating the new ministry, saying that the approach was futuristic and strategic.

According to Oyetola, President Tinubu, in recognition of the importance of the maritime industry and Nigeria’s strategic position as a leading maritime nation in the region, established the Ministry for Marine and Blue Economy upon assuming office in May 2023. 

He added that the new Ministry had already made significant strides in the quest to put in place a more progressive and dynamic maritime sector nationally, regionally, and internationally.

The minister said: “We have already begun the process of developing a framework that will ensure short, medium and long-term outcomes to reposition the maritime sector to achieve the new administration’s agenda for economic growth and development.

“In the area of national security initiatives, Nigeria has continued to take concrete steps in emplacing the necessary legal and institutional framework to sustain the successes attained in ensuring maritime security within her maritime domain.

“It is noteworthy to mention in this regard the enactment of a dedicated legislation, the Suppression of Piracy and Other Offences Act, which fortifies the legal framework, and in addition to that, the implementation of the Integrated National Surveillance and Waterways Protection Solution, known as “The DEEP BLUE PROJECT,” which further enhances maritime security with its command and control infrastructure,” Oyetola said.

He noted that the aforementioned initiative had continued to bolster Nigeria’s maritime security architecture and contributed to the significant drop in the number of security incidents in Nigerian waters and the wider Gulf of Guinea, which he said was achieved in collaboration with member states, stakeholders and the IMO.

In the area of marine environment management, Oyetola said that Nigeria had remained steadfast in the actualisation of its treaty obligation and that he was happy to report the recent ratification of six maritime conventions and protocols that will further promote a cleaner marine environment, ship-breaking criteria, global standard for fishing crew and response to oil pollution casualties.

While in the area of climate action and in fulfilment of the the IMO’s commitment to the global fight against climate change, the Minister said that Nigeria was committed to working with other member states in the implementation of the strategy

“Nigeria notes the 2023 strategy on Green House Gas emissions adopted at the MEPC 80 which demonstrated the spirit of friendship, compromise and consensus amongst member states,” Oyetola said.

He added that in the aspect of human capacity development, Nigeria had continued to place and give priority to the training of its seafarers through its national cadetship initiative, the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP). 

“Through this initiative, Nigeria has continued to train indigenous seafarers to build capacity and enhance its contribution to the global seafarer’s pool and manpower development, with attention on women seafarers. Since the inception of the NSDP programme, the Federal Government has trained 2,476 cadets in various fields at world-class maritime institutions across the world.

“To reform the business environment, we have continued to implement a broad-based agenda to improve the Nigerian maritime operating environment for commerce to thrive and be driven through inter-agency collaboration and cooperation with the private sector With technical support from IMO, we have initiated the development of a Port Community System (PCS) to create an effective and efficient port community system. 

“Currently, we have ensured interconnectivity of operations of the relevant agencies to create seamless cargo clearance processes and procedures to further enhance and simplify cross-border trade,”  Oyetola stated. 

Speaking during an event held on the sidelines of the ongoing General Assembly, the IMO Secretary General, Mr. Lim during a brief chat with Oyetola, described the decision by President Tinubu to create the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy as futuristic and strategic. He also commended Nigeria for providing security in the Gulf of Guinea, while also the country to share the idea of the new ministry with member states. 

Meanwhile, Minister Oyetola also held bilateral meetings with representatives of Greece, Qatar, and Mexico.

Also, the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko has said the planned port community system (PCS)by the authority is also geared towards supporting the nation’s economy to harvest more benefits from the blue economy.

Bello-Koko who said this in London where he is attending the 33rd session of the IMO General Assembly, described the initiative as a game changer that will integrate all stakeholders within the maritime sector, promote national economy and support security of vessels, crew members and cargoes within the Nigerian maritime domain.

He also expressed optimism that Nigeria will achieve the port automation and necessary integration ahead of the IMO 2025 deadline set for member countries.

The NPA MD who is on the entourage of the Honourable Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, CON and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, added that the PCS will foster transparency, support ease of doing business and trade facilitation.

He explained some steps taken by the authority to set the PCS in motion ahead of the 2025 IMO deadline to include development of automation-based processes. In time past, before the introduction of e-sen, (Electronic Ship Entry Notice), it takes about two weeks from the time of application to the time of approval and issuance of the ship entry notice certification. However, since the introduction of electronic processing of ship entry notice, it takes about one hour for a function that used to take up to one or two weeks, depending on the idiosyncrasies of the man on the table and all the table the documents need to pass through.

He said the system will save cost of doing business and make our ports trade friendly by carrying out a function of two weeks in one hour and enhance faster ship turnaround time

He added that NPA collaborative efforts with the IMO to achieve a world class port community system is at an advance stage and would soon migrate into implementation in line with global standard.

Bello-Koko added that while in London, the Honourable Minister will lead Nigeria’s delegation into series of bilateral meetings with Ministers of Marine affairs of Greeece, Mexico and Qatar today to set the stage for improved Nigeria’s participation in global maritime trade.

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