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Kwankwaso condemns non- disbursement Of $350m Cabotage funds

Presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Sen. Musa Kwankwaso
The Eyewitness reporter
The Presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Sen. Musa Kwankwaso, has condemned the non-disbursement of $350million shipping intervention funds, also known as, Cabotage Vessels Finance Fund (CVFF), to shipowners.

Kwankwaso, who spoke in Lagos at a town-hall meeting on the Maritime Agenda for the politician, organised by the Prime Maritime Project ahead of the 2023 general elections, also expressed shock over the government’s failure to refloat the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL), many years after it collapsed.

He, however, said to get the industry on its right footing, he will place the control of the nation’s maritime sector in the hands of stakeholders, if elected president in 2023.

According to him, the traffic congestion in Ijora and the Apapa port city was due to lack of planning for the future, saying the menace of gridlock from articulated vehicles in 21st Century Nigeria “goes to show that we rarely plan for the future.

“So many things have gone wrong with the industry. I can still remember the days of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) with its beautiful ships flying Nigeria’s flag across the globe!

Why did it die? Why do we not have a replacement as the giant of Africa? What has become of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)?
“Why has it not been disbursed to the beneficiaries? From my little knowledge of the sector, a lot of questions are begging for answers!”

“In summation, the desired assistance to all importers of goods, manufacturers, including exporters and other ancillary stakeholders associated with port operations and management, will be guaranteed under our party’s regime, by the special grace of God.”

However, “having been here today, I have discovered that more work needs to be done in the sector.

” I am therefore using this forum to solicit your support so that I can emerge winner of the 2023 general election.”

He also condemned the underutilization and over-utilization of the Eastern and Apapa Ports respectively.

He said, “Lagos port system originally designed for a population of fewer than 50 million people in the 1950s with less than 20 million cargo throughput has remained almost the same for over 200 million population in 2022.

“Our government will look into constructing a rail line from both Apapa and Tin Can Island ports to a dry port area outside Lagos, where arrived goods should be domiciled for clearance in order to stop heavy trucks from causing gridlock in Lagos.
“We should also look into the possibility of opening other ports such as Warri, Port Harcourt and Calabar, among others, to decongest the Lagos port.”

Going forward, he requested the stakeholders’ forum to form the nucleus of the group that will design “a workable and actionable maritime sector reform template, which should include clearance of goods arriving at our ports within 72 hours, as done in other countries.”

Kwankwaso, also vowed to place the control of the nation’s maritime sector in the hands of stakeholders, saying “under our watch, maritime professionals will take charge of the maritime sector.”

According to him, “operators of the maritime industry know where it pinches the most and certainly has their insider perspective on how best to revamp the sector.

” We will continue to tap into that insider knowledge to have a better understanding of the challenges so as to continue to fine-tune our proposed policies.

“In the end, we must all agree that this very important sector must be back on its feet and must be given the chance to support the growth and development of our country in the overall interest of our citizens.”

He explained that though the NNPP has a robust economic blueprint, in which maritime and transport logistics are incorporated, his presence was due to his conviction that “maritime is a critical element to the growth, survival and prosperity of Nigeria.

“The maritime industry gave birth to our great party, the NNPP, so my being here is primarily to listen, appreciate and understand the expectations of maritime operators from me and our party should we eventually emerge winners of the 2023 general elections.

“Though I may not have been fully involved in the maritime sector to understand its nitty-gritty, my experience over the years as a former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, former governor, former minister of defence and a former senator has availed me some basic understanding of the sector, especially some of its challenges.

Earlier, the Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Kunle Folarin, had enumerated the rot in the sector, regretting the incessant changes in the leadership of maritime regulatory agencies and the supervising ministry, which are often headed by appointees that have no knowledge of the industry, which adversely affects its growth.

This was also listed by the Prime Maritime Project, which said the series, which will be availed to all presidential candidates, was meant to extract a social contract from them on their plans and commitment to placing the maritime sector on the front burner as a major economic driver.

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Danish court returns guilty verdict on Nigerian pirate —- remands him in prison

The Eyewitness reporter

A Danish court on Monday found a Nigerian guilty of endangering the lives of Danish military personnel in a shooting incident last November involving Denmark’s navy and a crew of suspected Nigerian pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.

However, the court declined to sentence the Nigerian, Lucky Frances, 40, despite a call from the prosecutor for a prison sentence of 12 to 15 months.

As part of international anti-piracy efforts, Denmark deployed a frigate to the Gulf of Guinea in October last year.

The following month, it intervened in an alleged attack on a commercial vessel, killing four pirates and capturing four other suspects.

“The court emphasized that the 40-year-old Nigeria, together with the other perpetrators, fulfilled all the signs of piracy and had to be described as a pirate group,” Copenhagen city court said in a statement.

Frances, who was injured during a firefight with Danish navy personnel in the November clash, was taken to Denmark for prosecution in January after being treated at a hospital in Ghana.

 Danish authorities deemed it unsafe to release him in Ghana. His leg was amputated as a result of his injuries.

Frances was exempted from any legal consequences due to his medical condition and the fact that charges against the other three suspected pirates had been dropped, his lawyer Jesper Storm Thygesen told Reuters.

Charges against the three other suspected Nigerian pirates were dropped in January after Denmark failed to find a country in the region to take them.

They were released from detention on the frigate and put to sea in a small dinghy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Frances will remain in custody until both sides have decided whether to appeal against the verdict, Thygesen said.

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Possession of NIN by passengers now requirement for boarding trains—Sambo


— as government shifts resumption of Abuja-Kaduna rail services to December
The Eyewitness reporter
As part of the multi-layer security measures put in place on the troubled Abuja-Kaduna train route, the federal government has announced that no passenger will be allowed to buy tickets for train services without a National Identification Number (NIN).
In addition, no minor will be allowed onboard unless registered by an adult with a NIN who cannot register more than four minors per trip.
Reviewing the security measures put in place ahead of the resumption of the Abuja-Kaduna train route, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, said these and other security initiatives which the government has taken are necessary to forestall the reoccurrence of the sad event which occurred on March 28th, 2022 on the route when the train was derailed by insurgents who killed and kidnapped passengers.
The minister, who on Sunday at Kaduna expressed satisfaction over the level of security measures in place, also said the steps taken so far will also stop ticket racketeering which has been the order of the day among the railway staff on the route.
The Minister also expressed confidence that the measures put in place are adequate enough for the train service to commence.” There is sensitive equipment that we have deployed that I will not reveal. The other thing I can tell you is that for every journey, the train is monitored every second on the screen.

” The train driver can see from a distance if there are any threats on the tracts that will enable him to match the break long before getting to the threat, and that is why I am telling you confidently,” said the Minister.

The Minister debunked the rumour that train services will resume on Monday, adding that the newly introduced measures will delay the resumption of business along the corridor for a few more days for passengers to get acquainted with the new protocol involved in train boarding before it will resume services.

“We have not said that train services will start tomorrow. I want to be very categorical about that.

“Now, we have introduced a new system before you buy a ticket. The purchase of a ticket requires you to provide a phone number and a national identification number in order to profile you because that is the beginning of the security checks. So at any point in time when a train moves from one station to another, we know who and who are on board.

“If you don’t have a NIN you are not going to board our train, it is as simple as that. If you are a minor, an adult will register for you and an adult can only register for not more than four minors.

“Now, we want to give sufficient time for the Nigerian public to listen to these two requirements, to assimilate this new system.

“So if you go and start tomorrow, a lot of people will be disgruntled. Why didn’t they tell us that this is a new way of doing it? Why didn’t they give us adequate time to do it? So we want to give you adequate time. Definitely between 3,4,5 days, certainly not more than a week.

Sambo assured Nigerians that a smooth and secured train ride is guaranteed while noting that the trains will not travel at night for now, while there is also going to be a review in train fares.

“I can assure you that we are a compassionate government and will consider the masses in the review of the train fare.”

We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.

“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snags”.

“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company, called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.

Sambo said that although only God can guarantee maximum security, he assured Nigerians that everything is in place to guarantee a secured and smooth train ride.

“We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.

“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snacks”.

The Minister assured that Secured ID would continue to handle the e-ticketing services.

“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.

The Minister was accompanied by the Minster of State for Transportation, Ademola Adegoroye; Minister of Water Resources Eng. Suleiman Adamu; Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation Fidet Okhiria; Chairman Governing Board Nigeria Railway Corporation Ibrahim Musa.

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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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