Maritime Security Providers Association of Nigeria (MASPAN) has raised an alarm over the influx of quacks maritime security organisations operating in the nation’s maritime industry.
Speaking with journalists recently on the sidelines of the Association Annual General Meeting, former Publicity Secretary of MASPAN, Flight Lieutenant Terry Ajanobe, said most of the maritime security organisations lack standards as only few of them are duly registered under the auspices of the international Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code by the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
According to him, at a time when he was appointed the lead Recognised Security Organization (RSO), only nine RSOs was duly registered with NIMASA as against over 90 currently operating in the industry.
Ajanobe warned that if urgent steps are not taken to address the problem, security of critical national assets could be jeopardized.
“We have the RSOs as some of the key pillars of MASPAN. So this particularly affects us. Today, after I have left the role of the lead RSO, I was told that we have close to about 90 RSOs, many of whom, I am certain have not gone through the rigours of been screened and they have access to everything relating to our critical assets and we don’t know who these people are.
“We came out with modalities and present that to NIMASA on recommendations on how they can register competent and professional RSOs but unfortunately, we don’t think that has been taking on board. We want to raise this concern because we will not wait until something happens.
“I am sorry that as it stands today, we do not have the quality of RSOs that can stand to defend the work they are doing in our port facility and we have over 200 of them in Nigeria. I want to suggest that we go back to the time that all the Designated Authority (DA) had to do was to make sure that they accredit competent RSOs and let the port facilities themselves go to them. They know the ones that are competent and the ones that are charlatans. Because they are paying for that service, let them have a little bit of liberty as to who they want to work with.
Reacting to the issues, Director, Seafarers Standards, Captain Sunday Umoren, admitted that NIMASA has not actually looked at the checklist for the selections of RSOs, but assured that the issue would be looked into and that the committee reviewing the work of the ISPS code unit will be objective in the selection process. .
“We have made a lot of effort in coming up with the unit that will stand all test to meet up with international obligations. The guidelines has been sign off, so we now have a guideline on the workings of the unit. We have not actually looked at the checklist for the selections of the RSOs but from the issue you have raised, we will surely look at it and if there is any suggestion the association want to put forward, we will put it across to you.
“However, you can’t really say the RSOs we have don’t meet standard until you have seen one or two that are falling below such standard. But we will review the checklist to make sure that whatever we have especially for the International Oil Companies (IOCs) and bigger terminals are actually qualified to do the job. We will review the guidelines on the selections of RSOs and I can assure you the outcome will meet international standards,” he said.