One of NIMASA’s interceptor special mission vessels
Thanks to consistency in reforms and availability of enforcement vessels, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has topped the chart on Port and Flag State Control (PSC) in West and Central Africa recently released by the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (Abuja MoU).
The agency, according to the latest report by the Abuja MoU on PSC for West and Central Africa Region, beat other maritime regulators in the region in the inspection of vessels calling at their respective ports. Abuja MoU is the apex regional treaty on port control.
In the Abuja MoU report, Nigeria dominated in detailed inspection of vessels with 13 exercises out of the total 14 carried out in the continent in 2018. Also, the report showed a significant rise in recorded deficiencies across the continent, listing 727 vessel deficiencies in 2018 as against 587 in 2017.
This was attributed to increased enforcement exercises across the various regions, with Nigeria in the lead with 339 deficiencies.
According to the Secretary-General of Abuja MoU, Mrs. Mfon Usoro, an analysis of the body’s performance between 2010 and 2018 indicated an unbroken incremental improvement by member-nations’ administrations of the MoU in every aspect of the PSC.
She said this proved the commitment by member-states to rid their waters of substandard ships, improve the standard of welfare of shipboard officers and crew, and stem the pollution of the region’s waters.
Welcoming the ranking, NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, attributed it to the agency’s recent reforms, the deliberate investments in, and availability of enforcement equipment, as well as the efforts of the Abuja MoU’s administrator in Nigeria.
He stated: “At NIMASA, we are conscious of global best practices and are determined to rid our waterways of all substandard vessels, with the ultimate aim of ensuring a safe and robust maritime domain. This will afford us the capacity to be a competitive player in the global maritime space, giving us an edge in the comity of maritime investment destinations.”
Peterside assured the shipping community of the agency’s maximum support, adding: “We will remain unwavering in our commitment to safety and innovation in line with global best standards, despite the challenges. The agency has no intention of taking anyone out of business. Rather, we are here to assist ship operators by creating a conducive environment.”
He further restated that the agency would not fail to clamp down on erring operators in order “to safeguard the country’s maritime environment for the good of all.”
NIMASA, sequel to the international requirement for countries to inspect at least 15 per cent of foreign vessels entering their domain, inspected and surveyed over 600 vessels calling at the Nigerian ports. This has improved safety on Nigerian waters and led to a reduction of vessels with deficiency from 18.99 per cent in 2015 to barely 14 per cent in 2018.
To achieve this, NIMASA within the last three years acquired special mission aircraft, special mission telecommunications gadgets and 17 interceptor special mission vessels.
It also set up a Command and Control Centre in conjunction with the nation’s security services, with a complement of armoured vehicles, to patrol littoral states, as well as a standing military force to deal with criminal activities at sea.
The Abuja MoU is the legal document under which countries within the region agreed to develop and implement a common mechanism for the respective PSC activities, with its major work the harmonisation of the PSC procedure and practices within the region.