Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has also shut down two other jetties over their noncompliance with the prescription of International Ship and Port Facility Security, ISPS, Code.
NIMASA clamped down business operations of Magcobar Manufacturing Limited jetty at Reclamation Road, Port Harcourt and Shoreline Logistics Limited at Old NPA Port, Marina Road, Calabar, in exercising its powers as the Designated Authority, DA, for the implementation of the ISPS Code; just as members of Shippers Association Lagos State, SALS, called on the federal government to critically re-appraise the activities of the Standards Organisation of Nigerian, SON, especially in view of its Conformity Assessment Programme, SONCAP, with the intensions of scrapping it, because it has become an irrelevant burden on importers.
The Acting Director General, Haruna Baba Jauro said his management was forced to take the drastic action against both facilities for failing to comply with the provisions of the code, after repeated warnings to the contrary woefully failed to elicit the desired compliance.
Pointing out that Nigeria could not afford to slide, from its current over 80 percent compliance status, more so, when NIMASA was already targeting 100 % compliance, the agency was therefore left, with no options, than to institute stringent measures against defaulting facilities. Nigeria has about 129 facilities.
“The shut facilities will remain closed until their managers correct the identified deficiencies and pay a prescribed fine before they will be reopened for business”, Baba Jauro indicated further.
The agency a week earlier had shut the Obat Oil and Petroleum Limited Jetty at Ibafon over the same reason: non-compliance with the ISPS code.
In the meantime, the SALS has called on Government to scrap the SONCAP, a money spinning brainchild of SON, stressing that it has become unnecessary and irrelevant burden , currently chasing away shippers from doing legitimate business.
The SALS President, Rev. Jonathan Nicol stated this in, Lagos while talking on topical issues.
“SON knows that presently our ports across the nation are losing so many cargos .This is not just sub- standards issue but the abuse of uncontrolled heavy levies placed on their Conformity Certificates against Shippers in Nigeria.
“With the introduction of SONCAP Nigerian Shippers are running away; available statistics has shown that 45% of in borne Nigerian cargo are now diverted to Port of the Republic of Benin. Cotonou Port now enjoys the biggest recognition by shippers, in the West Africa Sub Region”, he indicated.
While still appealing to FG to relax the current policies on importation, Rev. Nicol noted that “Importers cannot open Form M because they need the SONCAP first. Almost all imported items are listed by SON. Industries are operating now at 35% installed capacity. Retrenchment has started. APMT stated that cargo loss is 35% and they will downsize. More than 2million workers will lose their jobs as from January 2016”.
“The traditional Christmas rush is now fizzling out as Cargo Throughput has been grossly depleted. Nigeria Customs Service will not be able to meet their anticipated “Revenue Target” because they do not have enough cargo. The SONCAP Policy has succeeded in chasing away genuine importers due to difficulty in obtaining Form M without SONCAP. It takes close to 2months to get ‘FORM M’ approval in Nigeria. At this crucial time of economic hardship with the downward sales of crude oil, the Federal Government will pass through difficult times to meet its budgetary obligations. As Importers are charged N268,000 penalty for none availability of Conformity certificate by SON and N108,000 to procure Form M for 20′ Container. Multiply this figure by two for a 40′ Container.
“Shippers believe that FGN was misguided. Additional charges are: $300 per Certificate for Containers and $700 for Washpipes and General cargo at point of issuance by their Agents abroad as service charge. Stamping fee in Nigeria is N3,000 per 20′ and N7,000 for 40′ containers also as service charge for same transaction.
“The negative result is the abandonment of Nigerian Ports for SON. All revenue with other Maritime Agencies will be affected in due course. Freight Forwarders will have less cargo to handle. Vessels will reduce voyages to Nigeria Ports. Government will have a tough time without revenue. Don’t blame Nigeria Custom Service if they can’t meet their target. The problem is conformity Certificate introduced by SON”.
“Without cargo no revenue; this is the voice of Shippers Association Lagos State calling on the Government to scrap the unpopular irrelevant anti progressive policy of SON. Sub- standard cargo from Countries like China and India should be stemmed down in their Countries of origin. Government should insist on standards from these Countries or suspend Trade with them.
“Maritime sector is dying slowly while SON is amassing Shippers wealth by force. Nigerians should be worried over the dwindling economy of our country. The casualties are the down trodden. We should all collectively help to save our children’s future. ”he said, adding that the issue was therefore not about conformity of standards, but one of warped policies that will render the sector empty.
Meanwhile, more than 4,600 people have been plucked to safety from unseaworthy boats off the Libyan coast over the past three days, the Italian coastguard said Sunday, as migrants took advantage of calmer waters to attempt the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.
On Saturday alone, the coastguard operations centre in Rome coordinated nine rescues, pulling 1,123 people to safety from two boats and seven inflatable dinghies.
According to the United Nations, the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Europe fell by more than a third last month, due to bad weather and a Turkish crackdown on traffickers in the Aegean on the route to Greece.
The 4,600-plus migrants who attempted the crossing between Thursday and Saturday were encouraged by the calmer waters to set off for the nearest Italian coast.
Several Italian coastguard vessels, along with the German naval support ship Berlin — part of Operation Sophia, an military EU mission to stop migrant traffickers — took part in the rescues.
In late November, the International Organization for Migration estimated that nearly 860,000 migrants had landed in Europe so far this year, with more than 3,500 dying while crossing the Mediterranean in search of safety.

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