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NIMASA DG warns against substandard vessels in West, Central Africa

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Abiola Seun

The Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, on Monday, urged 22 member countries of the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Abuja MoU), to ensure that substandard vessels are not allowed in West and Central Africa sub-region.

Abuja MoU was established on 22nd October 1999 in Abuja, Nigeria, as an inter-governmental organization comprising the Maritime Administrations of countries abutting the South Atlantic Ocean coast of Africa.

 The regime covers 22 countries from Mauritania to South Africa, 18 out of these countries are currently having  full member Status.

Speaking at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)/ ABUJA MoU workshop for heads of maritime Administrations in the West and Central Africa Region, for Heads of Maritime Administrations in Lagos, the DG also urged member states to ensure that minimum percentage of 15 percent foreign vessels are inspected in individual maritime domains.

Jamoh, who was represented by the agency’s Executive Director of Operations, Shehu Ahmed, also reiterated NIMASA’s unflinching commitment to Abuja MoU in it’s focus for reduction of substandard ships, curbing marine pollution and ensuring good working conditions of crew members onboard ships within member states waters.

The DG said, “as a critical reference, we must remind ourselves of the core objectives that
informed the founding and establishment of the Abuja MoU which includes reduction and elimination of substandard shipping, preventing marine pollution, and to improve the living and working conditions of seafarers aboard ships.

“All of these can only be realized when we develop a system of
harmonized port State control inspection procedures for the region.
” Such a system of harmony will only be achieved by working through the synergistic quadrants of cooperation, coordination, collaboration and cooperation.”

The NIMASA boss who frowned at the low financial contribution by member states and  urged them to improve on their financial contribution to the organisation.

“Let us renew our resolve to collectively ensure that the minimum percentage 15 percent of foreign vessels that should be inspected in our individual maritime domains, the stipulated financial contributions of members which is currently below expectations as I am told that less than a tenth of our members are responsive, the employment, training and retention of qualified Port State Control Officers and Surveyors and the attendance and hosting of the committee and other meetings.

He, however, vowed that NIMASA will continue to work with the Abuja MoU, Federal Ministry of Transportation and IMO to ensure that the Port State Control regime achieves the set objectives of maritime safety and protection of the marine environment.

“On our part, we shall continue to work with Abuja MoU, the Federal Ministry of Transportation and IMO to ensure that the Port State Control regime achieves the set objectives of maritime safety and protection of our marine environment while not losing sight of the thin line between maritime security and maritime safety.

Also speaking at the event, Secretary General of Abuja MoU, Captain Sunday Umoren, said about 14 countries are presently conducting inspections.

He said disclosed that a concentrated Inspection Campaign is being embarked upon with 2022 focusing on STCW .

He said detentions are not the best parameters to measure port state control efficiency.

According to him, high level compliance level is a major target. He added that Abuja MoU is engaging policy makers to get them into making maritime friendly policies that would rid the waters of substandard ships.

Umoren said all port state control officers are taking advantage of Whatsapp group to achieve quick information sharing and beat the delays associated with long official procedures in identifying and detaining defaulting vessels at their next port of call within the Abuja MoU zone

He said, “This training is aimed at ultimately obtaining the unlimited support of the Policy Makers who will in turn hold the officers on the scene accountable, thereby, improving the efficacies of the regime.

“I should hasten to add that we are not unaware of the fact that all of you have unquestionable skill levels in the expectations of PSC regimes. This brings us to the other reason for the training, which is to improve the networking loop of all the MARADs in our region recalling that there might arise at anytime, a need to seek the assistance of the next Member State to apprehend an errant vessel.

“This is in the spirit of Section 1 Commitments under sub-section 1..4 which states that each Authority will consult, cooperate and exchange information with the other authorities in order to further the aims of the Memorandum.We are expectant that as a consequence of this workshop, the task of making the call to that next administration would be considerably simpler,” he said.

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