The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has on behalf of the Federal Government charged the 22 Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)member States in the West and Central African sub- region , to ensure that they are effective in combating the menace of maritime insecurity and safety in their waters.
The Director General of NIMASA , Dr Bashir Jamoh gave the charge in a Good will message, read on his behalf, by the Agency’s Executive Director , Operations , Mr. Shehu Ahmed, , at the opening of a three- day Workshop/ Training organized by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in conjunction with the Abuja MOU in Lagos, yesterday.
The Abuja MOU comprises 22 maritime countries in West and Central Africa, who are signatories to the purpose of effective Port and Flag State control- effective inspection of foreign ships and checking of pollution among others in their waters.
[He said the shipping industry in the respective countries need the maritime administrators to be on top of their game, especially as regulators who must always be above the challenges in the seaborne trade, in the areas of maritime security , safety and capacity building.
Jamoh said as the workshop progressed , the maritime administrators must remind themselves of the core objectives of the establishment of the Abuja MOU, which is to check pollution on the West and Central African waters, eliminate and reduce sub standard shipping and improve seafarers welfare.
This according to him, can only be achieved when the maritime administrators develop a system of harmonised Port State control inspection procedure, by working through the instrument of cooperation, coordination and collaboration.
[ He admonished member States to abide by the purposes of the Abuja MOU , which make it incumbent on them to inspect at least 15 per cent of ships which call at their maritime domain, payment of their dues, as opposed to the current situation , where one tenth of the members are not up-to-date., employment , retention and training of qualified Port State Control officers, and surveyors, and the need for them to always attend Committee and other meetings of the group.
The NIMASA Director General stated that the growth potential and high expectations of maritime stakeholders for the industry would only be realized through the development of a system of harmonized Port State Control inspection procedures for West and Central Africa.
He made the assertion while addressing Chief Executives of all Maritime Administrations signatory to the Abuja MoU at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), organized workshop on Port State Control for West and Central African Region. The IMO partners the Memorandum of Understanding, Abuja MoU, in organizing the regional workshop for heads of maritime administrations in Lagos.
Dr. Jamoh, who was represented by the Agency’s Executive Director, Operations, Mr. Shehu Ahmed, identified the importance of effective Port State Control systems to the efficient running of member states’ Maritime Administrations.
According to him, “As we all know, Port State Control provisions are featured in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provision under the duties and responsibilities of Flag states, Coastal states and Port states and it is also highlighted under enforcement in all major IMO and some ILO conventions.
This function entails the enforcement of applicable conventions of the IMO and ILO that have been cascaded down to us as signatory states for domestication through our national laws.”He added that: “It would interest you to know that NIMASA executes four legal instruments in keeping with our international obligations – The Merchant Shipping Act; the NIMASA Act; the Cabotage Act and the most recent being the SPOMO Act for the suppression of piracy and other maritime offences.”
While declaring 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 Jamoh urged 22 member countries of the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Abuja MoU) to improve on their financial contributions to the organisation
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, who represented the Vice Chairman of Abuja MoU and Honourable Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi in the Minister ‘s Opening Remark commended the organizers of the training/workshop for their commitment to developing the most critical resource of all, that being the human element.
On his part, the Secretary General of the Abuja MoU, Captain Sunday Umoren identified the need for continuous capacity building and networking initiatives in order to gain the support of top maritime administrations (MARADS), thereby promoting productive working relationships which would in turn, benefit the maritime industries in member states as well as collectively.
Captain Umore, disclosed that only 14 countries are presently conducting inspections in the region, and called for a Campaign for effective inspection regime with focus on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW). He said detentions are not the best parameters to measure port state control efficiency.
The Abuja MoU is one of the 9 Regional MoUs and 1 national MoU established pursuant to IMO Resolution A.682(17) of 1991. The Organization operates under a Cooperative Agreement with the IMO and was established on 22nd October 1999 as an inter-governmental body .