- As review committee submits report
Upbeat that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) would soon become the first West African maritime nation to attain ISO 90012015 certification, the Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said the agency was pursuing International Standards Certification for the Nigerian ship registry.
Peterside spoke in Lagos as he received the report of a review committee of the Nigerian Ship Registration Office, set up by NIMASA to identify the flaws in the registry and recommend improvements. He assured that the agency would implement the recommendations with purpose and commitment.
According to him, “the idea of the International Standards Certification is that Nigeria would become the first ship registry in the continent of Africa to earn five-star international standard certification. This is a commitment we are making to you, and by next year it would be a reality.”
Against the background of the submission by the chairman of the committee, Mr. Emmanuel Ilori, that people shunned placing their vessels under the Nigerian flag because it was no longer attractive, just as banks were more exposed to bad debt due to its bad reputation, Peterside said the review would restore respect and reputation.
More so, it will provide access to international financing and ensure sea-time experience for Nigerian cadets, adding that while ships from the flag of convenience or “local registry” are despised, those known as global standard, like the UK flag, are automatically respected.
“It is believed it meets every global standard, is manned by the right people and will not be involved in any illegal activity because there are minimum standards accepted by the UK ship registry, but this cannot be said of flag of convenience,” he said.
In that respect, Peterside lamented that presently, only a few ocean-going vessels fly Nigerian flag, while even the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) vessels do not, but “if the Nigerian ship industry is solid, reputable and business-friendly, it will command global respect, attract vessels to the Nigerian ship registry, and Nigerian flag ship leaving for other countries will also earn her place.
“It would mean technical competence, better disposition by the international community, and access to funding in the international financing space. Out there, financial institutions can deal with you and you can now access capital at a competitive and relatively cheap rate. It will also enhance the status of the Nigerian seafarers.
“So if the Nigerian ship registry earns that reputation, we can’t be fighting for sea-time berth for our cadets. They can practice on vessels with Nigerian flag and become employable anywhere in the world. Again, it will drastically reduce insurance premium payable by those vessels; the insurance club in London will treat you with some caution.”
Earlier, Ilori, who disclosed that members visited and extracted support commitment from world class shipping registries, including those of the UK and Norway, and classification societies, including the American Bureau of Survey, assured that if followed to the letter, the committee’s recommendations would attract investment and raise Nigerian flag’s acceptability.