News Stories in 1st Quarter 2007 Edition of DDH Magazine
NIGERIAN TRANSPORTATION UPDATE
Plateau Governor Lays Foundation For Container Depot
P lateau State governor, Michael Bot-Mang has acknowledged that the full take-off of the Jos Inland Container Depot will put it on the path of economic revival in the state and the country. Bot-Mang stated this at the foundation-laying ceremony of the Jos Inland Container Depot performed at Heipang. "It is in line with our desire to lay a proper foundation for the economic upliftment of Plateau State that informed the decision of the government to give top priority to the economic venture in the 2007 budget," he said. He said the people of the state have, for long, suffered economic backwardness which has resulted in unemployment and poverty, adding that when completed, the depot would cut down the trips of businessmen and women as all transactions would be done in Jos. The governor used the occasion to call on the federal government to upgrade the Yakubu Gowon Airport to international status, explaining that the gesture would not only meet the yearning of the people of the state, but neighbouring states as well.
Navy Starts Sea Exercises
AGAINST the backdrop of rising insecurity in the delta and its resolve to fulfill part of its responsibility in the security of the Gulf of Guinea, the Nigerian Navy has started a series of naval exercises in the Bight of Bonny to test its preparedness to fully secure the area. Code-named Exercise Idabo, the exercise is also to test the operational capability of Nigerian Navy ships, which have been undergoing local refit. Idabo is a Yoruba word meaning " to protect". The Bight of Bonny is the major strategic gateway for Nigeria's crude oil and natural gas. The area gives access to over 500 oil fields and the largest crude oil export terminals. Apart from the oil fields, with their numerous exploitation and storage platforms, the Bight of Bonny is the only access route to Nigeria's huge natural gas reserves and the gigantic industrial complexes that have been constructed to store and export the gas. A total of 13 ships, four helicopters and four boats will be taking part in the exercise.
The ships taking part in the exercise are drawn from the two operational arms of the Navy - the Western and Eastern Fleets. The ships and helicopters include the nation's flagship - the MEKO 360 General Purpose Frigate NNS ARADU; the MK9 corvette, NNS ENYIMIRI; the Landing Ship Tank (LST) NNS AMBE; the Strikers - NNS SIRI, NNS AYAM, NNS EKUN and NNS DAMISA. Also to participate are the four buoy tenders transferred to the Nigerian Navy by the United States Coast Guard - NNS KYANWA, NNS OLOGBO, NNS NWAMBA and NNS OBULA.
The ships include Nigeria's Presidential yacht and training ship, NNS AMARIYA; the Inshore Patrol craft, NNS YOLA; the Agusta A109E helicopters and the Defender Response Boats (DRBs). All naval personnel participating in the exercise are to conduct Fleet Manoeuvres, Boarding and Search, emergency drills, gunnery and ceremonies.
MEND hijacks Bacoliner ship, take 24 foreigners hostage
A general cargo ship belonging to Bacoliner was stopped and seized at Okerenkoko (Chanomi Creeks in Warri, Delta State, Nigeria) in mid January by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta, MEND taking about 24 foreigners on board hostage.
The militant group gave the Federal Government 72-hour ultimatum to meet its demands or all the hostages would be eliminated and the ship destroyed. Delta State government was said to be intervening in the situation. “The Philippinos, we understand, are okay,” the governor's spokesman, Mr. Sheddy Ozoene. Philippine President, Gloria Arroyyo subsequently banned her nationals from further working trips to Nigeria.
Local media reported MEND officials as demanding the immediate release of the former governor of Bayelsa state, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and the leader of the Niger-Delta Delta Peoples Volunteer Front, Alhaji M. Asari-Dokubo, who is standing trial for treasonable offences. Also, MEND has threatened to bomb the Chevron Oil Tank Farm in Escravos if they were rebuffed by government. Some other demands the militants made include SPDC’s payment of $1.5b to Ijaws of Bayelsa State and N1.5b to each of nine militants killed last year in a shootout with government security forces as well as an accounting of all the monies accruing to Rivers and Bayelsa States from the 13 per cent derivation fund.
Nigerian Navy To Train Namasa Personnel For Cabotage Enforcement
Retired Nigerian Navy officers have been engaged to carry out a comprehensive training of cabotage enforcement officers of the National Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NAMASA. The director-general of NAMASA, Mrs. Mfon Usoro said this during an interaction with the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye in Lagos.
She said the training was part of collaboration between the Nigerian Navy and NAMASA which has led to the setting up of a NAMASA-Navy joint committee and will facilitate the set up of an effective Search and Rescue Unit.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye said both government Agencies would work immediately towards ensuring continuous information flow on the movement of ships and vessels in Nigerian waters to enhance safety and security of live and property.
In a related development, NAMASA acquired marine pollution boats and SAT helicopters late last year.
NIGERIAN CABOTAGE LAW - C ONDITIONS FOR WAIVER RENEWAL
The National Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NAMASA,which regulates Nigerian cabotage trade has made provision of training berths in cabotage vessels a condition for renewal of the mandatory waiver required by foreign operators to do the business in Nigeria. NAMASA director-general, Mrs Mfon Usoro said henceforth shipping companies trading in Nigerian coastal waters must show evidence of such training for Nigerian seafarers to enjoy the waiver. The occasion was the sign-on ceremony for 17 Nigerian seafarers being trained by Maersk Line Ltd in Port Hacourt, River State.
Represented by NAMASA’s director of cabotage enforcement unit, Chief Stephen Ezekwem, she restated her agency’s commitment to fulfill the local content desire of the Federal Government towards skill development. “We have taken cognizance of the floating production storage and offloading facility (FPSO), multipurpose drilling facility/processing sea craft and we are positioning Nigerian seafarers to comfortably fit into any demand for crew that may arise in such specialized equipment, especially in cabotage operations”, she concluded.
Railways gets new CEO
The Federal Government has appointed Mr. Jetson Nwankwo as acting managing director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation.
Nwankwo, who until the new appointment, was the director of operations at the corporation, replaces Alhaji Abdulrahman Abubakar, who has been redeployed to the Federal Ministry of Transportation.
It was learnt that Nwankwo was named as new chief executive at an emergency meeting of the NRC board held on Wednesday at the Ebute Meta, Lagos headquarters of the corporation. Although Abubakar is on annual vacation, he has been directed to report to the Ministry in Abuja on February 1, for his new assignment.
Ministry sources say that the erstwhile managing director was being considered to head a proposed department of railways, which would take care of the various projects for the rehabilitation and modernisation of the nation’s railways.
Ahead of its eventual privatisation, the Federal Government had indicated its willingness to reactivate the ailing rail system and make it attractive for local and foreign investors.
President Olusegun Obasanjo, had on November 28 2006, inaugurated the construction of a new rail line from Lagos to Kano on standard gauge. The double track project was awarded to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation at the cost of $8.3bn.Government is also discussing with a South Korean firm the details of another rail line construction to link Port Harcourt with Maiduguri.
TOTAL RADAR COVERAGE OF LAGOS AND ABUJA AIRPORTS.
Scheduled night flights are now possible between the Nigerian capital, Abuja and Lagos after the installation of new radar equipment, officials say. "For the first time in the history of Nigerian aviation, we have been able to attain 24-hour radar coverage in Lagos and Abuja," a spokesman said. Nigeria has experienced a series of tragic plane crashes leading to about 300 deaths in less than two years. Officials could not locate the wreckage of one plane for almost 24 hours. The plane crashed in a small village in south-western Ogun State, in October 2005, killing all 117 passengers and crew.
"All that will now be a thing of the past," Bayo Oladeji of the Nigerian federal aviation ministry told the BBC News website. "In the past, there was radar coverage of only about 15km radius in both airports and even this was only for three or four hours a day," Mr Oladeji says. "But now, it's 24 hours and this mean we are able to monitor every single plane flying between Lagos and Abuja 24 hours a day."
The new radar equipment, aviation officials say, covers 65 nautical miles from Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos and 40 nautical miles from Abuja's Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. Mr Oladeji says the radar equipment will be extended to other airports across the country.