Lagos – The Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, on Monday directed that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) should improve on security of the nation’s waterways.
Amaechi, gave the directive at the opening the ceremony of Regional Training Course on Port State Control for the West and Central Africa region holding in Lagos from March 7 to March 16.
He commended the efforts of both NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy in protecting the nation waters to attract more vessels into the country.
Amaechi said that there was need for continuous audit performance of NIMASA to increase its revenue drive.
The minister urged NIMASA should improve on capacity building to enable the government achieve its mandate.
In an address of welcome, the Acting Director-General of NIMASA, Mr Haruna Jauro, said that the workshop would enhance knowledge on ship inspection.
“It also provides another opportunity for us to update our knowledge and enhance our drive toward building a robust and effective maritime safety regime in our respective countries and the West and Central African Region at large.
“The need for Port State Control (PSC) can no longer be over-emphasised.
“That the shipping industry is adequately regulated but inadequately monitored is an accepted fact and this has been the main reason for the continued existence of sub-standard vessels in our waters.
“The dangers of these un-seaworthy vessels have become so huge that lives and the marine ecosystem are massively threatened,’’ the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes Jauro as saying.
According to him, it is clear to all that huge investment in human and capital resources are required to perform PSC inspection effectively and creditably.
He added that, “The dearth of adequately qualified marine professionals is a worldwide phenomenon that militates against most countries of the sub-region.’’
NAN reports that in attendance are 19 countries consisting of Nigeria, Angola, Benin Republic, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
In his opening remarks, Mr William Azuh, Head, Africa Section, Technical Cooperation Division, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) & Project Manager, FlagPort, West and Central Africa, explained the essence of the workshop.
“The activity which we will be engaging in for the next eight working days is part of the 10th European Development Fund (10th EDF) specifically devoted to the development of maritime and indeed shipping activities in West and Central Africa.
“It is a 1.2 million Euros Project on Flag State Implementation, Port State Control and Maritime Legislation review for beneficiary countries in West and Central Africa.
“IMO is the implementing agent for the project which started in March 2014 and will be rounded off in December this year, ’’ Azuh said.
He said that the overall objective of the Project was to prepare the beneficiary countries for the IMO Mandatory Member States Audit Scheme which became mandatory from January this year.
The IMO chief said the audit hitherto used to be voluntary but not anymore, adding that all member-states of IMO would be audited.
According to him, IMO Audit scheme can be described as a health-check of maritime administration aimed at correcting any identified gaps and challenges in the respective administration.
The Secretary General of Abuja MoU on Port State Control, Mrs Mfon Usoro, said Port State Control Officers (PSCO s) had benefitted from several foreign, regional and national trainings on several aspects of Port State Control procedures.
According to Usoro, the positive outcome of these trainings are evident in the quality of inspections, increase in number of inspections and the significant reductions in the number of alleged wrongful detention and unprofessional conduct on the part of the port state control officers.
“The training will foster further coordination and harmonisation of port state control regulations and procedures within the region.
`It is our hope that many more administrations will implement the new inspection regime approved by the port state control committee of Abuja MoU in 2012.
Usoro said that the Abuja MoU Register of port state control officers had 145 PSCOs for 16 countries.
According to her, that number is grossly inadequate for attainment of the 15 per cent inspection target.
She said that maritime administrations were encouraged to locate resources for the employment and training of qualified port and flag state surveyors and inspectors.
Usoro expressed appreciation to the Euopean Union, the African Carribean and Pacific Grouo of nations and especially the IMO for their consistent technical and cooperation assistance
The Head, Maritime Safety and Seafarers Standards Department in NIMASA Mr Femowel Abel, said the training workshop tagged “Flag Port WACAF Project’’, was initiated to enhance Flag State Implementation (FSI) and Port State Control (PSC) Inspections in West and Central Africa.
“The key objective of the project is the achievement of Africa’s economic growth, connectivity and the promotion of regional integration.
“It is common knowledge that the West and Central Africa sub region has long been perceived as the hiding place of unseaworthy vessels.
“Irresponsible vessel owners and operators have taken it for granted that they could do within the sub-region, illegal and unsafe activities which they would not dare attempt in other sub-regions,’’ NAN quotes Abel as saying.
He noted that NIMASA had been doing its best to eliminate these ships.
“However, this training workshop would further enhance our capacity to effectively regulate vessels on our waters for sustained economic development,’’ Abel said. (NAN)