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05 Nov 2017

India, Ethiopia sign agreements on trade, communication

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"The government today gave its ex- post facto approval to the trade agreement between India and Ethiopia to strengthen economic ties between the two countries, an official statement said. The decision was taken by the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here. The trade agreement will replace the existing pact signed in 1982. The Cabinet ""has given its ex-post facto approval for the trade agreement between India and Ethiopia for strengthening and promoting trade and economic co-operation"", the statement read. The pact was signed on October 5 during the state visit of the President of India Ram Nath Kovind to Ethiopia. ""The trade agreement will provide for all necessary measures to encourage trade, economic cooperation, investment and technical co-operation,"" it added. The bilateral trade between India and Ethiopia declined to USD 840.5 million in 2016-17, from USD 854.6 million in the previous fiscal. India and Ethiopia signed agreements on October 5 on trade, communication and media to boost bilateral ties as President Ram Nath Kovind held talks with his Ethiopian counterpart Mulatu Teshome. Kovind and Teshome discussed economic relations, with the agreements on trade, communication and media signed in their presence, according to the president's Twitter page. India also thanked Ethiopia for its participation in the International Solar Alliance (ISA), established in 2015. The aim of the ISA is to provide a dedicated platform for cooperation among solar resource rich countries and promote the use of solar energy. The president discussed Indian support to Ethiopia in the power sector, healthcare, and education. He referred to India as among the top three sources of foreign direct investment for Ethiopia. Later, Kovind and Teshome also addressed the India- Ethiopia Business Dialogue and released a book titled 'India- Ethiopia: 70 Years of Diplomatic Relations'. The India Business Forum is the first partner-country forum of its kind in Ethiopia and represents more than 100 Indian companies. Kovind said India has created jobs and contributed to the prosperity of Ethiopia. Indian investment has had a significant presence in manufacturing in Ethiopia and value addition to local resources, he said. Ethiopia has been the largest recipient of Indian concessional lines of credit in Africa, with over USD 1 billion committed. Kovind arrived here from Djibouti yesterday on the second leg of his maiden visit abroad. His visit is the first by an Indian president to Ethiopia in 45 years since President V V Giri's trip in 1972. Last night, the president addressed the Indian community at an event in Addis Ababa, noting that it has been at the centre of India-Ethiopia relations. As teachers and educators, Indians have given a helping hand to nation building in their host country. As entrepreneurs, they have created economic opportunities and imparted skills to local people, he said."

31 Oct 2017

The London P&I Club News Alert: Madagascar - Plague outbreak

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"An outbreak of plague is reported in Madagascar. This infectious disease causes fever, chills, head and body aches, vomiting and nausea, and can be fatal. ETIC/Africa P&I Services, a local correspondent, reports that the outbreak is severe and fast spreading, affecting the whole island of Madagascar, including ports. In particular, an outbreak of pneumonic plague has been reported in the port city of Tamatave/Toamasina and the US authorities have issued a Maritime Alert urging vessels calling in Madagascar to exercise caution. The disease is spread by bites of infected fleas, inhalation of respiratory droplets/small particles from persons with pneumonic plague, and unprotected contact with infectious bodily fluids or contaminated materials. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that travellers to Madagascar take the following steps to help prevent being infected: · “Use EPA-registered insect repellent that lists protection against fleas on the label and contains at least 25% DEET. · Avoid close contact with sick or dead animals. · Avoid close contact with seriously ill people, especially people who are coughing up blood.” Those calling at Madagascan ports should be alert to the plague risks and take appropriate precautions to avoid infection. This may include considering limiting contact on shore, refraining from travelling in-land, and seeking prompt medical assistance in the event of suspected plague symptoms and/or after close contact with those who are infected."

17 Oct 2017

Liberian Registry launches cyber and ship security computer-based training programme

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"The Liberian Registry has launched a Cyber and Ship Security Computer-Based Training (CBT) programme that provides a comprehensive overview of cyber-security issues, including concepts such as malware, network security, identity theft, risk management, and other common threats to maritime security. Jorgen Palmbak, Director of Maritime Security for the Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR), the US-based manager of the Liberian Registry, says, “Cyber-attacks have been identified as among the most serious emerging threats to the security of today’s shipping industry. Over 40% of crew members have reportedly sailed on a vessel that has become infected with a virus or malware - and only 1 in 8 crew members have received cyber-security training. “In recent years, it has become apparent that maritime companies, ships, and ports are not adequately protected against what is clearly a rapidly evolving threat. Furthermore, IMO has issued a resolution giving shipowners and managers until 2021 to incorporate cyber-risk management into their ship safety plans. The Liberian Registry believes that there is an immediate need for both crew and shore-based staff to receive cyber security training as part of an overall security skill-set update and has accordingly taken a proactive approach to the issue. “The CBT program also provides a comprehensive overview of common maritime security threats, including the risk of criminal activity, threats to ship security, port-based drug-trafficking risks, security roles and responsibilities on board, and an introduction to the ISPS code. It further covers issues relating to stowaways, about 2,000 of whom are discovered each year hiding on ships, and piracy attacks, of which there have been an average of more than 300 per year since 2009.” The two-hour computer-based training program is divided into four modules, with ongoing evaluation through a series of questions. On successful completion, a certificate is awarded. The Cyber and Ship Security Computer-Based Training fulfills the requirements of STCW security awareness training. Additionally, the Liberian Registry’s Seafarer Certification and Documentation Department will accept completion of the training for its security awareness special qualification. The training is recommended for all individuals, at all levels of seniority, who require enhanced training to deal with the threats faced by all companies, vessels, and crew. "

17 Oct 2017

African unions demand Madagascar act on Malagasy 43 as ITF tells ICTSI to back up statements with actions

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"The Madagascan Government will be the target of a protest at 08:30 tomorrow (18 October) at the African Ports Evolution conference in Durban, South Africa. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), and its affiliate the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), will demand that the government immediately take all necessary steps to reinstate 43 dock workers sacked at the ICTSI-operated Port of Toamasina. Ahead of tomorrow’s protest, Edga Mbina Mbina, SATAWU Provincial Secretary said: “South African unions stand shoulder to shoulder with these Madagascan dock workers. The Madagascan Government must ensure that they are reinstated, and that their right to join a union to fight for decent work is recognised and respected. Democratic countries respect workers’ rights – this is not what we are seeing in Madagascar."" International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) President, Paddy Crumlin, said that the Madagascan Government’s refusal to enforce a court order recognising these workers’ right to organise – and failure to observe the basic human rights for their own citizens – is damaging Madagascar’s image not only across the region but around the world. “The ITF stands in solidarity with COSATU and SATAWU with a clear message for the Madagascan government – the Malagasy 43 must go back to work. ""The Madagascan Government can solve this problem right now by showing real leadership and stopping this exploitation. The government should enforce its own labour laws and abide by international labour conventions. They must reinstate the Malagassy 43 immediately and allow SYGMMA to organise for all workers at the Port of Toamasina.” The Malagasy 43 were employed by labour-hire company SMMC when fired in 2012 following legitimate union activity. None of the workers have been reinstated, and the workers’ union SYGMMA has not been recognised by SMMC. The protest in Durban forms part of global week of lawful actions by ITF affiliates within ICTSI’s global terminals and shipping routes, in a renewed international push against the emerging pattern of labour violations across ICTSI’s global network. ICTSI’s Senior Vice President, Christian Gonzalez claimed this week that ‘ICTSI remains committed to the safety and welfare of our equipment operators’ and it’s time the company back up statements with actions. “In outsourcing work to labour-hire companies, ICTSI believes it can avoid proper scrutiny and criticism for the wages and conditions of casual workers at its terminals. But everyone knows that ICTSI carries the ultimate responsibility for the working conditions of all workers at its terminals. “These workers in Madagascar deserve the right to be recognised as the bona fide workforce by ICTSI. All workers employed in stevedoring activities need to be treated as direct employees. It’s time ICTSI stopped taking shortcuts on these workers’ lives, on their families’ lives,” said Crumlin. The ITF is attending the Ports Evolution conference to present its latest report – ICTSI’s global expansion: a risky proposition? – on the emerging pattern of labour violations across ICTSI terminals. Madagascar is currently a member of the South African Development Community (SADC). In 2009, Madagascar was suspended from the SADC. This suspension was lifted in 2014, recognising the steps taken by the Government of Madagascar to return the country to democracy. The failure to reinstate the Malagasy 43, despite court orders recognising the union’s right to organise at the port, indicates that there is still more work to do to ensure respect for the rule of law and for the rights of workers and all citizens."

05 Oct 2017

Lagos, Stakeholders Endorse 14-Point Resolution to End Apapa Gridlock

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"After ordering all articulated vehicles to stay away from the state, the Lagos State Government and other stakeholders have agreed to a 14-point resolution to restore order and sanity to Apapa where the nation’s busiest seaports and oil depots are all located. The stakeholders comprising the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Nigeria Police Force and terminal operators, among others, have resolved that all tankers, trailers and trucks should remain in truck terminals outside the state. The decision was contained in a communiqué THISDAY obtained Wednesday after a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Apapa Local Government Secretariat to end the perennial traffic congestion in Apapa Central Business District and its environs. The meeting was convened at the instance of the state governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, to work out a lasting solution to the perennial traffic congestion caused by truckers within Apapa. At a news conference a fortnight ago, the state government had ordered all trailers, trucks and oil tankers to stay off all roads within the state after a week-long outright blockade of all access roads to Apapa and the intractable gridlock resulting from it. Consequently, it directed the operatives of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Rapid Response Squad (RRS) and the State Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit, among others, to deny all articulated vehicles access to the state. In a communiqué after the meeting, the stakeholders lamented that the perennial traffic congestion caused by truckers within Apapa ports and its environs was a major concern as many lives had been lost and businesses paralysed. In order to find a lasting solution to the menace, the state government called for a stakeholders’ meeting involving government agencies, port regulators, truck owners’ associations, terminal operators, clearing agents and other stakeholders. After an exhaustive session and inspection of facilities at the terminals, the stakeholders agreed that the NPA, NSC and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), being the regulatory bodies, would enforce the use of holding bays as a pre-requisite for the shipping companies. The stakeholders equally agreed that only consolidated shipping companies would henceforth be allowed to bring empty containers from the holding bays into the ports. They also agreed that the shipping companies “must write and get approvals in advance from the NPA and port managers at Apapa and Tin-can Ports, respectively, for the number of containers expected into the port on a daily basis”. “The NPA is mandated to inform the cargo owners to liaise with the shipping companies on the return of the empty containers which must be enforced. Henceforth, Equipment Interchange Report (EIR) must indicate the destination point for the return of empty containers and must be enforced by the terminal operator,” the communiqué said. The stakeholders agreed that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) must be operational on a 24-hour basis within the port premises, regardless of public holidays, which they said would help improve the ease of doing business in Apapa and its environs. They further agreed that truck barriers should be erected at the entrance and exit of identified inner roads within Apapa axis, stressing that all articulated vehicles – tankers, trailers and trucks – would be restricted to truck terminals in Ogun State. They agreed that the restricted movement of the trucks outside Lagos State “will be closely monitored and enforced by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), law enforcement committee and other stakeholders”. The stakeholders agreed to set up an enforcement committee at all entry point into Lagos State, which they said would regulate the activities of the truckers within the Apapa metropolis. The stakeholders directed the authorities of the LASEMA Rescue Unit and Apapa Local Government Authority “to collaborate in securing an operational base for the operation of LASEMA in Apapa”."

05 Oct 2017

NIMASA Vows to Appeal Court Order on NLNG Tax Holiday

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"The Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has expressed the agency’s dissatisfaction with the judgment of a Federal High Court Justice M. B. Idris in the case between NIMASA and the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, (NLNG). Dakuku who stated the management’s intention to appeal the judgment, noted that the agency’s legal team was waiting for the certified true copy of the judgment, which would be studied before making appropriate response. NIMASA had in 2013 requested the NLNG to pay all statutory levies accruable to the agency, including the 3 per cent levy on gross freight on inbound and outbound international cargo, 2 per cent cabotage levy and sea protection levy, stating that the NLNG was not exempted from payments of statutory levies after its tax holiday ended many years ago. Section 2 (1) of NIMASA Act states that “This Act shall apply to ships, small ships and crafts registered in Nigeria and extended to ships, small ships and crafts flying a foreign flag in the Exclusive Economic Zone, Territorial and Inland Seas, Inland Waterways and in the Ports of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”. The only vessels exempted from levies under the NIMASA Act are “…warships and military patrol ships”. Head, Corporate Communications at NIMASA, Isichei Osamgbi, said in statement that NIMASA had portfolios of statutory revenues that it collects from shipping companies/ship operators, manning agents and seafarers. “This the agency pays into the coffers of the government. It is within these funds generated that the agency uses to develop and police the maritime sector. NIMASA does not receive any government allocations,” he said. A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday ruled that NLNG was not liable to make the said payments to NIMASA, and that all such payments already made by NLNG to NIMASA should be refunded to NLNG forthwith. Justice Idris further held that NIMASA was wrong in blockading the Bonny Channel for the purpose of enforcing the payments against NLNG. NLNG, had in 2013, sought a judicial determination on, among other things, the legality or otherwise of the levies sought to be imposed on NLNG by NIMASA, and the consequent blockade of the Bonny Channel by NIMASA and its agents as a result of the dispute. NLNG had also sought a court order restraining NIMASA from further blockade of the Channel. An Interim Injunction granted in favour of NLNG by the Federal High Court was disobeyed by NIMASA,which again effected a blockade of the Bonny Channel for over a three week period whilst the matter was pending, thereby preventing NLNG vessels and other vessels doing business with the Company, from entry and exit through the Channel. NIMASA had filed a Counterclaim restating its supposed entitlement to receive payment of the levies from NLNG. Reacting to the court order, NLNG’s General Manager in charge of External Relations, Dr. Kudo Eresia-Eke said that the company as a law abiding company and a good corporate citizen remains committed to conducting its business in accordance with the laws of Nigeria."

23 Sep 2017

ITLOS rules in Ghana’s favour but issues operative clauses

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"The Special Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has delivered judgement in Ghana’s favour in the maritime dispute with neighbours La Cote d’Ivoire. It has, however, directed the two nations to agree on some measures, key among them is an agreement on the delimitation of their maritime boundaries. The Tribunal observed that two countries had differing views on the starting point of their maritime borders. The Special Chamber, after years of adjudicating the case, on Saturday delivered judgement in the presence of both parties. Ghana’s delegation was led by Minister of Justice Gloria Akuffo while Presidential Advisor Adama Toungara led La Cote d’Ivoire’s delegation which had its Minister of Oil. The Special Chamber raised concerns over Ghana’s “traditional”, “customary” and “tacit” equidistant agreement of more than five decades by recommending new methodologies for delimitation within and beyond 200 nautical miles. New coordinates were, as a result, ordered for the feuding parties by the Special Chamber. It cited the Qatar-Bahrain and Bangladesh-Myanmar precedents in delivering its judgement. Ghana decided to seek clarity at the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) over the maritime boundary in 2014 after bilateral negotiations with La Cote d’Ivoire yielded no results. While Ghana claimed the equidistant methodology has been the agreement between the two countries for a long-time now, La Cote d’Ivoire wanted a new approach – Angle Bisector methodology – to be adopted. That new approach would have limited Ghana’s exploratory activities in the Cape Three Points. Conceding that an “appropriate methodology for the delimitation of maritime zones” needed to be agreed upon between the two nations, the Special Chamber concluded that “none of the activities of Ghana engages its international responsibility”. “Therefore, the Special Chamber considers that there is no need to address the question of reparation.” The Chamber commended Ghana’s disposition in cooperating during the dispute and, by extension, communicating with La Cote d’Ivoire every step of the way. “The Special Chamber observes, however, that Ghana did not immediately provide all the information requested by Cote d’Ivoire and that it did so only after the President of the Special Chamber requested it to comply by letter dated 23 September 2016. “The Special Chamber nevertheless considers that such conduct cannot reasonably be considered to constitute a violation of the measures prescribed in the Order of 25 April 2015.” Jomoro La Cote d’Ivoire had also raised issues with Ghana’s most south-western city of Jomoro, claiming it is within its territory. “Jomoro is undeniably part of the territory of Ghana,” the Special Chamber stated. “It cannot be treated as an island or a protruded peninsula.” It said by the Commission on Limits and Continental Shelf (CLCS) standards, Jomoro is within Ghana’s territorial area. After Saturday’s settlement, it is expected that cartographers will redesign the boundaries with the newly agreed coordinates, which are said to give Ghana a wider territory. "

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