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Russia-Ukraine conflict may lead to seafarers shortage, hike in wages—Experts

 

Shipping experts have expressed concerns over the ongoing hostilities in Ukraine which they said may lead to a crisis in the supply chain of seafarers.
Their worries were predicated on the large numbers of both the Russian and Ukrainian seafarers which make up a large chunk of seafarers worldwide and which the conflict may affect.

According to analysts, nearly 1.9 million seafarers are currently operating over 74,000 vessels in the global merchant fleet.

They said with the Russia Ukraine conflict showing no signs of easing and all focus on humanitarian logistics and aid, one key component of the supply chain – as usual – is being ignored and they are the seafarers.

Nearly 1.9 million seafarers are currently operating over 74,000 vessels in the global merchant fleet, according to the Seafarer Workforce Report published in 2021 by BIMCO and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).

“Of this total workforce, 198,123 (10.5 percent) of seafarers are Russian of which 71,652 are officers and 126,471 are ratings.

 Ukraine accounts for 76,442 (4 percent) of seafarers of which 47,058 are officers and 29,383 are ratings.

 Combined they represent 14.5 percent of the global workforce.

“Shipping is currently responsible for the movement of nearly 90 percent of global trade.

“Seafarers have been at the forefront of the response to the Covid Pandemic, ensuring essential supplies of food, fuel and medicine continue to reach their destinations,” ICS said in a statement.

Guy Platten, Secretary-General, ICS, added: “To maintain this unfettered trade, seafarers must be able to join and disembark ships (crew change) freely across the world.

 “With flights canceled in the region, this will become increasingly difficult.
“The ability to pay seafarers also needs to be maintained via international banking systems.
“The safety of our seafarers is our absolute priority. We call on all parties to ensure that seafarers do not become collateral damage in any actions that governments or others may take.

“Seafarers have been at the forefront of keeping trade flowing through the pandemic and we hope that all parties will continue to facilitate free passage of goods and these key workers at this time.”

Research by ICS shows that an average ship has a mix of at least three nationalities on board, and sometimes as many as 30.

“Three languages were the minimum spoken on the average ship.”

ICS has also called on governments around the world to ensure access to medical care for seafarers after it emerged that crews continue to be refused urgent treatment at ports during the pandemic.

Given this background, the International Maritime Organization held an Extraordinary Council Session on Mach 10 and 11, and the agenda was on addressing the impacts on shipping and seafarers of the situation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

“We anticipate we will receive specific submissions from Member-States as well as from NGOs in consultative status but mostly it will allow for States to make statements as to their views,” an official told The STAT Media Group.

The IMO Council consists of 40 Member States, elected by the IMO Assembly.

The International Group of P&I Clubs (marine insurance providers) personnel sub-committee has issued a contract addendum to assist owners and crew, especially Ukrainian crew, who would like to alter their contracts.

The last container ship in Ukraine – Joseph Schulte, capable of carrying 9,400 20-foot containers – arrived on the eve of Russia’s invasion and has not moved in 12 days, its crew and cargo safe but caught in a war zone, Bloomberg reported.

Seafarers and the ship are “safe and well,” according to a statement from a crisis PR agency that responded to an email request sent to Germany-based Bernhard Schulte that is listed as the ship’s owner, the report added.

Russian/Ukrainian seafarers more on tankers

“Russian and Ukrainian officers are employed in high numbers on tanker vessels, both oil and gas, which already have the tightest supply of qualified and experienced officers.

” Hence it is on these trades that the main effects will be felt,” Drewry said in an update.

“A reasonable proportion of Russian and Ukrainian seafarers will already have foreign homes, and will therefore be less restricted in their travel to or from vessels during crew changes.

“But Drewry estimates these to represent less than 20 percent of the available pool and visa implications could arise if the free movement of Russian citizens is limited by the international community.

“Hence, a large number will therefore be directly affected now.”

Ukrainian seafarers currently at sea will find repatriation very difficult with a best case that they travel to a nearby country by air and then onward home via whatever means is available, Drewry added.

“This obviously carries considerable danger but with family possibly still in situation and a desire to defend their country some may return.
For Ukrainian seafarers off duty at home when the conflict started, the situation will be even more difficult.

 For a range of reasons, it is thought that they will find it very difficult or impossible to travel to join a vessel for their next scheduled tour.”

Given the fast-changing situation, employers may think twice about employing Russian seafarers if they cannot reliably get them to vessels as planned.

 “Banking restrictions imposed on Russia may also make payment of seafarers problematic, adding to reasons companies may look to other nationalities to crew their vessels.
Indian seafarers are likely to be the prime option, although there are also other alternative nationalities.
 Indian wage rates are similar to Russian and Ukrainian and supply numbers are high.

However, as mentioned earlier, given pre-existing tight officer availability, there will only be limited skilled labour available to fill any gaps.”

Drewry is expecting the conflict’s impacts on seafarer availability to lead to wage inflation, particularly for officers where supply conditions were already tight.

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As Nigerdock recants operational breaches, FG may lift suspension on the facility

The Eyewitness reporter
The Federal Government has expressed its readiness to lift the suspension order on Nigerdock following its willingness to abide by the rules and its contributions to the growth of the National economy.
The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, stated this recently when he visited the firm in Lagos in the company of the Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adegoroye and some Management Staff of the Ministry.
Addressing the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerdock, Maher Jarmakani and other officials of the company, the Minister pointed out that the reason why they were suspended was as a result of complaints from other Terminal Operators, saying Nigerdock had operating advantages over them.
“What led to your suspension was that I received complaints from Terminal Operators, saying that you are not on the same level with them. In the sense that they pay more to the government than you do. You’re likely to attract freight at a much lower cost to the detriment of businesses”,  the Minister disclosed.
He, therefore, urged them to liaise with Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to work out all the operational licenses needed to enable them to operate and the latter will forward the same to the Minister of Transportation whose prerogative it is to give approvals.
Speaking further, the Minister said: “We will never do anything to undermine the things you are doing here in terms of generating wealth and jobs for Nigerians.  The only thing we are saying is that the law should be followed. We should not encourage lawlessness “.
Responding, the CEO, Nigerdock, Maher Jarmakani, said the firm has taken notable steps in this regard as they have been granted bonded permits by the Nigerian Customs and they are currently working with Nigerian Ports Authority to ensure all processes of getting the needed approvals are followed accordingly.
“We are seeking your support Honourable Minister and that is why we wrote a letter of appeal for your guidance and your support to see that we have followed all processes and procedures” Jarmakani stated.
Furthermore, Jarmakani informed the Minister that in the 30 years of its existence, Nigerdock has employed more Nigerians than its peers, assuring that the company will not undermine the country’s extant rules and regulations.
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APMT advocates road tax credit programme to attract investments to port industry.

L-R: Former President, Shipowners Association of Nigeria, Greg Ogbeifun; Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello-Koko; President Nigerian Maritime Law Association, Funke Agbor; Executive Director ENL Consortium, Mark Walsh and Chief Financial Officer of APM Terminals Apapa, Courage Obadagbonyi at the Nigeria International Maritime Summit (NIMS) 2022 in Lagos on Tuesday.
The Eyewitness reporter
The Chief Financial Officer of APM Terminals Nigeria, Courage Obadagbonyi has advised the Federal Government to replicate some of the tax laws operating in other sectors of the economy to the maritime industry in order to attract more investments.
According to him, tax programmes such as pioneer legislation, Infrastructure and Roads Tax Credit Program which companies like MTN and Dangote have used to successfully build hundreds of kilometres of roads and bridges across the country can also be replicated in the ports.
Speaking as a panelist during a session on ‘Financing Maritime Assets – Ports and Shipyards’ at the just concluded Nigeria International Maritime Summit (NIMS) 2022, Obadagbonyi said, “I am of the school of thought that funding of viable infrastructural projects is not an issue in terms of availability of cash.
“There is a lot of private equity and multilateral funding available if the projects are well positioned and investors have a line of sight to their payback.
“I think what we need to do is publicity and sell these projects to the right individuals with the right pockets. There are incentives that are available to investors in Nigeria.”
Speaking further, he said, “I think with more publicity and engagement with private stakeholders, a lot of some of these challenges that are bedeviling us with investing in port infrastructure can be fixed.
“For instance, we have great tax laws that incentivize investment in this country.
“Things like pioneer legislation, Infrastructure and Roads Tax Credit Program which companies like MTN and Dangote have used to successfully build hundreds of kilometres of roads and bridges across the country can also be replicated in the ports.
” We also have great capital allowance provisions that encourage investors.”
He advised the Federal Government to embark on a massive awareness campaign to further attract private capital to the nation’s seaports because, according to him, based on the latest data published by the Debt Management Office, the country’s debt profile currently stands at N42 trillion, which is about four times the country’s total revenue budget per annum.
This, he said, makes the cost of borrowing more expensive.
Obadagbonyi said Nigeria had to find creative ways to unleash private sector participation in port rehabilitation instead of depending on government funding through borrowing.
NIMS 2022 was declared open on Monday by the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo.
“Sustainable financing models are important to build critical maritime assets such as shipyards and ports across the country,” Sambo had said while declaring the summit open.
The Minister said Nigeria remained committed to the sustainability of the blue economy.
Also speaking during the opening ceremony, Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Kitack Lim said, “I am aware of Nigeria’s significance to the maritime sector of West and Central Africa.
” Carbonisation is the greatest challenge of our time, which IMO is working to address. The upgrading strategies shall be concluded in July 2023.
“By next year, we shall adopt the long-time strategy. However, prior to that time, we shall continue to support member countries.”
He lauded Nigeria’s role in the suppression of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea but cautioned that stakeholders must continue to remain vigilant as continuous capacity building is key to success in this regard.
APM Terminals Apapa, the largest container terminal operator in Nigeria, has invested more than $438 million at the Lagos Port Complex Apapa.
The amount was invested in developing infrastructure, acquiring equipment and improving processes at the terminal.
The terminal has also been at the forefront of digitisation of port operations in Nigeria in line with its commitment to introducing new innovations to help both shipping lines and landside customers achieve improved supply chain efficiency and flexibility in a cost-effective manner.
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NIMASA unveils N17.4 billion new highrise headquarters on Victoria Island

 

The Eyewitness reporter
The Director- General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Bashir Jamoh and his management team stood tall Tuesday when the tall, magnificent highrise building that will serve as the agency’s headquarters, was unveiled and commissioned.
Sharing in the moment of glory of the epoch-making event was the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Kitack Lim, who had the rare privilege of commissioning the edifice, and the Minister of Transportation Engr Muazu Sambo together with his permanent secretary, Dr. Magdalene Ajani.
Apparently awed by the N17 billion tall and ultra-modern building, Mr. Lim said that more important is human competency and capability, while leadership is the most paramount.
He however lauded the initiators of the befitting project while expressing confidence in the leadership of the transport sector of Nigeria.
 He also extolled the dynamic role of the Minister of Transportation, Engr. Mu’azu Jaji Sambo and the heads of the various parastatals under the supervision of the Transportation Ministry.
“An important element is human competency and capability, with leadership being the most paramount to consider, which I have seen exhibited by the Minister.
“He is an extraordinary and rare leader. I am very confident to look forward to more prosperous opportunities and development of maritime activities of Nigeria”, he said.

The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo expressed gratitude to the IMO Secretary-General for making out time to visit Nigeria and also having a first-hand opinion on the developmental strides in Nigeria’s maritime sector.

 He stated that Nigeria will strive to ensure Nigerian maritime activities are in line with best practices, while also embracing new technologies in the frontier of global maritime discourse.

Also speaking at the event, the Chairman, House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu commended the Dr. Bashir Jamoh-led Management of NIMASA.

She noted that NIMASA should aim higher as there is room for improvement.

The NIMASA Director General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh  again thanked the IMO Secretary-General for his visit to Nigeria

 “Your name will remain in gold as long as Nigeria’s Maritime Administration is concerned”.

Jamoh further intimated him that NIMASA has embarked on various projects in the year, 2022, all with the aim of ensuring a robust and conducive maritime environment is attained in Nigeria.

This, he said, has been made possible with the support of stakeholders across the board.

In July 2021, the Federal Executive Council approved N17.4 billion to purchase the new highrise building that is located on Victoria Island.

The magnificent edifice is a 16- storey High rise building christened Kanti Tower which sits atop 6600sq metres of land and it is said to consist of the latest technology fittings, a helipad and a parking bay for over 100 cars.
 It was developed through a joint venture between the Lagos State Development Property Company – LSDPC and Senkay Nigeria Limited.
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