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Smoke rises from the Eleftherios Venizelos ferry as a firefighting vessel tries to extinguish a fire on the ferry, at the port of Piraeus, Greece, August 29, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

 A passenger ferry with 1,016 people onboard returned safely to the port of Piraeus in the early hours on Wednesday after it reported a fire while en route to Crete, the Greek coast guard said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, a coast guard official told Reuters.

The Eleftherios Venizelos, carrying 875 passengers and 141 crew, was sailing off the island of Hydra when it notified the coast guard around midnight (2100 GMT) that a car parking compartment had caught fire.

It was escorted back to Pireaus after authorities scrambled air and sea assets to the area.

“It was a huge operation and everything went to plan,” said Nikos Lagdianos, spokesman for the coast guard.

At Pireaus a Reuters witness saw passengers in lifejackets walking down a sideway stair, while smoke billowed out of the ship. Firefighters were deployed at the pier.

People posted pictures on social media of individuals crowded on decks wearing red life jackets.

“It was difficult to breathe from the smoke,” one passenger identified only by her first name, Natassa, told Skai TV. Another reported hearing a ‘big noise’ before passengers were advised to wear lifejackets and head to assembly areas.

Disembarkation of all passengers was completed around 0700 am (0400 GMT).

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear, but authorities were investigating the possibility it may have started from a vehicle. There were more than 200 vehicles, including trucks, on the vessel.

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Dusk view of the Lagos Island Central Business District and Harbor. Photo by MOdAMO, Shutterstock

 

At least 30,000 metric tons of cocoa are trapped on their way to ports in Nigeria’s main city of Lagos as roads in a state of disrepair delay access to ships, the cocoa exporters body said.

Travel to the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports that previously took hours, now takes as much as four weeks as trucks struggle through cratered and water-logged roads to get there, Pius Ayodele, president of the Cocoa Exporters Association of Nigeria, said. The affected cargoes are either in traffic jams or stored in transit warehouses in Lagos.

“A greater part of this travel time is spent at the epicenter of the congestion which is just 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) to the ports,” Ayodele said by phone from the southwestern cocoa-trading center of Akure.

Nigeria currently ranks a joint fifth with neighboring Cameroon among the world’s biggest cocoa producers, with the International Cocoa Organization estimating its 2017-18 output at 240,000 metric tons. Access roads to the ports were left to decay by a succession of governments over the past two decades, now slowing everything ranging from cocoa exports to gasoline imports, escalating costs and taking a significant toll on economic activity, according to the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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Seafarers, who are often exposed to adverse working conditions with multiple stressors, are a population at acute risk of panic attacks.

We have recently received a report of a seafarer repatriated and diagnosed with panic disorder, insomnia (allegedly due to his work schedule) and depression. He was treated accordingly, prescribed medication for his condition, and after a successful course of treatment, was found fit to return to work. Seafarers can experience high levels of stress in their job. Seafaring entails dangers that are not present in many other occupations, and seafarers often work under threat of injury, piracy and disease.

Stressors in seafarers can be personal or directly connected to work conditions. Personal stressors are referred to in terms of how satisfied the seafarer is with his or her work, and the self-perceptions associated with their work. Occupational stressors entail the specific adverse conditions and associated hazards, such as work being overly strenuous or repetitive, the physical risks associated with their post, their career prospects, employment, compensation and the separation from their loved ones.

Accidents that result in injury, and the threat of piracy can also be traumatising for the individual seafarer, intensifying the anxiety and fear.

High levels of exposure to stressors can lead to panic attacks. Therefore, seafarers, as people who are exposed to adverse working conditions with multiple stressors, are a population at risk of panic attacks. A panic attack is a sudden surge of intense fear and discomfort that peaks within minutes, and involves combinations of the following symptoms.

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The Indonesian Supreme Court handed down a decision that a contract not drafted in the Indonesian language is null and void.

Although this decision was issued a couple of years ago, the issues therein remain very relevant for Shipowners entering into contracts such as LNG Terminals’ Conditions of Use, charterparties or contracts of carriage with Indonesian entities.

Background

For several years, Indonesian law (Article 31, Law Number 24 of 2009 on National Flag, Language, Emblem and Anthem, known as “the Language Law") has required that memoranda of understanding, contracts or agreements which involve Indonesian government institutions, Indonesian private entities or Indonesian citizens shall be in Bahasa Indonesia, i.e. the Indonesian language ("Bahasa"). Article 31 (2) of Law 24/2009 explicitly allows execution of an agreement in more than one language. Whilst this law seeks to regulate the use of Bahasa, in practice it means that any contract with any governing law, as long as it involves an Indonesian party, must be drafted in Bahasa, in addition to the foreign language.

Law 24/2009 further provides that the implementation of the law will be further stipulated by an implementing regulation, which will be issued within two years after the release of Law 24/ 2009. We understand that, to date, this implementing regulation has not been released.

On 28 December 2009, the Minister of Law and Human Rights issued a Clarification to Law Firms, where the Minister opined that Article 31(1) of Law 24/2009 did not apply to private commercial agreements and that accordingly, these could continue to be drafted in English in accordance with parties’ intentions. The Minister was also of the view that the actual implementation of Article 31(1) would have to await the issuance of a Presidential Regulation, as mandated by Article 40. Until such time as the Presidential Regulation was issued, the language requirement under Article 31(1) would essentially be unenforceable.

Despite the Clarification to Law Firms issued by the Minister, in June 2013, the West Jakarta District Court held a loan agreement between an Indonesian borrower and a foreign lender unenforceable for failure to comply with the Language Law. The loan agreement concerned was drafted in English only.

The Court determined that Article 31 of Law 24/2009 required every contract involving an Indonesian party, whether public or private, to be made in Bahasa. In the absence of a Bahasa translation, the loan agreement violated Article 31 of Law 24/2009, which resulted in the contract having an illicit cause. Although Law 24/2009 does not expressly set out the consequences if it is not complied with, the Court relied on Article 1335 read with Article 1337 of the Indonesian Civil Code to find that the loan agreement was null and void. Article 1335 provides, amongst other things, that a contract concluded pursuant to an illicit cause is invalid. Article 1337 further states that a cause is illicit if it is prohibited by law or if it violates morality or public order.