Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, has assured that the agency will give a committee it set up to modernize the nation’s ship registry necessary support to deliver its mandate.
Speaking in Lagos on Thursday when members of the committee met with maritime industry stakeholders, Peterside said that the agency would provide the needed political will to change the narrative of Nigeria’s ship registry to make it business friendly, competitive and earn the confidence of international financial institutions.
He said, “If a vessel registered under the Singaporean or the United Kingdom flag is talking to financial institutions, automatically, she is taken seriously. I am not sure we can say the same of vessels registered under the Nigerian flag.
“It will take effort to earn the confidence of financial institutions. But we want that story to change and it cannot change with NIMASA alone but with your inputs.
“The primary responsibility of ensuring that vessels are top of the class is with the flag and that is why in Port State Control, when they make certain observation, they notify your flag.
“It could be an embarrassment to the flag if the state of your vessel does not meet the minimum international standard or requirement, so we need to consciously make effort to ensure that vessels registered under our flag meet international standards and compete anywhere.
“If we want to be business-friendly, competitive, attract vessels in our registry, then our ship registry must be among the best in the world. We don’t want to compete with anybody in Africa but with the best in the world.
“We are clear on our vision and that is why we have the committee to work on the roadmap and we will work with them hand-in-hand until we get to the end of the road to reform the ship registration office.
“We will give you the needed support and political will. If we must approach the National Assembly to amend our laws, we will do that.”
Chairman of the committee, Engr. Emmanuel Ilori said input from stakeholders is key as they are the ones that will feel the impact of a working ship registry.
He said the purpose for the review of the ship registry was to ensure that Nigerian flag records quality ships, adding that substandard ships would no longer have a place under the Nigerian flag.
“It is a two-way process. There might be challenges from the stakeholders’ end or from the system. Our aim is to bring everything together so that we can have a ship registry that is world class.
“Let us be as critical as we can be about our experience with the ship registration process because if we fail to get it right, then let’s forget about it.
“I have had some discussions with various organizations and their perception of the ship registration process is not sound. That is why we need to be as critical as we can to provide solutions that we think are workable. It is not actually about the number of ships but the quality of ships on the Nigerian flag,” he said.
Ilori said the committee has approached international oil companies and has obtained commitment and cooperation initiatives that will help reform the ship registry.
He said, “The IOCs have so much to do with ship registry because they are the ones who give up the contract for the utilization of the assets. If those who are giving you the contracts don’t have confidence in your registry, then we have issues.”
Part of the terms of reference of the committee include to examine the status of Nigeria’s ship registry in line with international best standards; ascertain that ship registration processes in the country are of the same operational expectations with other climes; determine the level of automation of the Nigerian ship registration office; advise and recommend areas of improvement in the Nigerian ship registration office, among others.