Report: Lagos Port Lead in Delay, Congestion Globally

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Ebere Nwoji

A report on security threats and its challenges to ship owners has identified the Apapa port in Lagos to have the highest incidence of delays, diversion and pressure on crew members across the globe.

A global insurance firm, Allianz stated this in its safety &shipping review 2019.

The delays were linked to political risk which it stated has heightened around the globe and increasingly poses a threat to shipping security, trade and supply chains through conflicts, territorial disputes, cyber-attacks, sanctions, piracy and even sabotage.

The report also stated that Nigeria, has replaced Indonesia as the top global hotspot for piracy, accounting for 48 incidents or almost one in four of all reported cases globally as many ship crews are kidnapped and taken into Nigeria where they are held for ransom.

This was attributed to increased activities in the Gulf of Guinea (more than 70 incidents overall).

The report noted that Pirates in Nigeria had demonstrated their capabilities further by hijacking a tanker around 100 nautical miles off Point Noire, Congo in October 2018.

It said against this backdrop, the safety of crew continues to be a major cause of concern as it linked the hijacking and boarding of vessels to inequality and the economic situation in parts of Africa and Asia, which together account for more than three in four cases globally.

These according to the report posed challenges to ship owners and increase on marine insurance claims.

“Recent years have also seen an increase in migrants making crossings in unseaworthy vessels, most notably heading to Europe from Africa and the Middle East. Around 113,000 migrants entered Europe by sea in 2018 – the fifth year in a row this total has been in excess of 100,000, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

“In June 2018, the container ship Alexander Maersk rescued 113 migrants. The vessel responded to a request by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rome to change course and assist in a search and rescue operation in international waters.

“The number of piracy incidents around the world increased by 12 per cent year-on-year to 201 in 2018. Given 2017’s total of 180 incidents was the lowest total for 22 years, the 2018 piracy count still represents an 18 per cent decrease in incidents from five years ago (2014:245).

“Increased activity in the Gulf of Guinea (more than 70 incidents overall) is responsible for Nigeria replacing Indonesia as the top global hotspot for piracy, accounting for 48 incidents or almost one in four of all reported cases globally.

“Many crews are kidnapped and taken into Nigeria where they are held for ransom,” the report stated.

It, however, noted the reduction in total number of losses especially in accident hotspots such as south-east Asia, adding that weather losses halved due to quieter storm year.

“Number of shipping incidents is stable. Machinery damage is the major cause, responsible for US $1 billion worth of marine insurance industry claims in five years.

“In 2018, 46 total losses of vessels were reported around the shipping world, down from 98 12 months earlier, driven by a significant decline in activity in the global loss hotspot, south-east Asia, and weather-related losses (10) halving after quieter hurricane and typhoon seasons,” it added.

In addition, it noted that while the plummet in total losses was encouraging, the number of reported shipping incidents overall (2,698 in 2018) showed little decline – less than one per cent year-on-year.

“Today’s record low total loss activity is certainly influenced by fortunate circumstances in 2018, but it also underlines the culmination of the long-term improvement of safety in the global shipping industry,”

Allianz Global Product Leader Hull & Marine Liabilities, AGCS. Baptiste Ossena, attributed the reduction on losses to improved ship design, technology, tighter regulation and more robust safety management systems on vessels which according to him have helped to prevent breakdowns and accidents from turning into major losses.

He, however, noted that lack of an overall fall in shipping incidents, heightened political risks to vessel security, complying with 2020 emissions rules and the growing number of fires on board would bring more challenges to ship owners.

He, pointed out worst marine accident locations as South China, Indochina, Indonesia and Philippines maritime region, adding that one in four occurred in these countries in 2018 (12), cases saying it was however significantly down from 29 cases recorded a year earlier.

FCMB UK Boss Urges Africa to Generate More Local Wealth

The Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of FCMB Bank (UK) Limited, Mr. James Benoit, has advised policymakers in Africa to look more inward by creating wealth that will ensure sustainable development of the continent and reduce over reliance on foreign remittances.

While admitting Nigeria’s dependence on diaspora remittances may not disappear any time soon, he stressed that its proportion in the total budget has to reduce as soon as possible to achieve the country’s growth agenda in the near future.

The international banker said there was the need for African countries and their leaders to eschew excessive regulation which is responsible for unnecessary bureaucracy hindering growth.

Speaking about what was needed to be done to fast-track growth in Africa,  Benoit said: “There is no fast-track because it is part of the problem. We need to stop thinking of fast track, one-off game changers. Africa has a major demographic challenge which will be its growth engine or else drown it.

“Red tape bureaucracy must be cut, youth must get education or trade, and other skills and the empowerment of women must all be addressed. The continent must also be joined up to trade among itself rather than just export which is low value-added.”.

The Chief Executive of FCMB Bank (UK) Limited, emphasised that the critical role of technology in Nigeria’s economic growth and advancement must be accorded priority consideration.

He explained that the extent of adoption of technology would depend a lot on its accessibility, with requisite infrastructure deliberately built for that purpose. The banker added, “technology will not serve any major purpose if it is not used by Nigeria’s growing middle class or deployed to produce services for export among others.”

Benoit reiterated more specifically, the importance of educating or training the youth and ensuring medical care is accessible, so they can healthily contribute.

FCMB Bank (UK) Limited, an award-winning trade finance bank is said to have financed over hundreds of millions of dollars trade across nearly 2 dozen countries in the past 24 months.  The institution’s vast knowledge of those markets helps it to manage transactions that many other banks, including big global banks will not do. The bank has the compliance and credit appetite to do so since it is an African bank by shareholding and with experience of the African market.

FCMB Bank (UK) Limited had obtained the Variation of Permission (VoP) from the UK Regulators: The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) last year; allowing the Bank to include retail (deposit and investments) servicing in its product offering. The approval extends the Banks services from its corporate, commercial and institutional customers to include High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The Chief Executive Officer of the bank said the approval and extension of services was a major achievement which has equipped the bank to deliver its promise of being the corporate and private bank for African-oriented and Africa-based entrepreneurs, investors and professionals across all their banking needs. The bank has also expanded its premises and entered into partnerships with professional firms to propose its service options to potential clients.

“The bank has been on a long and productive trajectory as all good journeys should be. Our Wholesale Trade Finance and Corporate Banking units are growing from strength to strength. Having launched Private Retail Banking including cross-border SMEs, it is experiencing a new growth phase which is creating exciting times for our customers,” he added.