In a bid to further secure the nation’s maritime domain and stem the tide of piracy, armed robbery, illegal bunkering and other illegalities at sea, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has come up with several strategic plans.
Top on the list of these strategic plans is the collaboration between the agency and other government agencies. Consequently, in addition to the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Navy, the Patrick Akpobolokemi-led management of NIMASA recently signed an MoU with the Nigerian Air Force to utilise the constant air surveillance in safeguarding the nation’s maritime domain.
The agency also adopted public-private partnership (PPP) model to enhance maritime safety capabilities in the provision of fast intervention boats and aircraft.
“NIMASA entered into a PPP arrangement with Global West Vessel Specialist West African Limited which resulted to acquisition of 28 patrol boats that have been duly deployed to different parts of the country to enhance maritime safety. It has helped to enhance flag and port state administration, search and rescue operations, and coastal patrol, which have in turn helped in reducing the incidences of piracy and armed robbery at sea,” said Idris Umar, minister of transport, at the 2014 ministerial press briefing on programmes and projects of the ministry held in Abuja last week.
According to the minister, NIMASA has successfully deployed 24-hour satellite surveillance system which has the capacity to detect boats, ships and objects floating on Nigeria’s territorial waters, including the entire Gulf of Guinea.
“This system, which has the ability to identify vessels with switched-off AIS and further triggers alarm on suspicious activities of those vessels, has also helped in supporting search and rescue efforts in nine countries within the Gulf of Guinea region,” Umar said.
To ensure adequate security of Nigerian ports through full implementation of the provisions of International Ships and Ports Facility and Security (ISPS) Code, the minister disclosed that the agency had established a full unit to drive the ISPS Code implementation; developed regulations, guidelines and quick reference cards; conducted security survey, verification and inspection of Nigerian port facilities and certified compliant ports, while non-compliant ports were duly sanctioned.
A breakdown of ISPS Code compliance status of Nigerian ports and terminals shows that 26 onshore and 23 offshore facilities are compliant; five facilities are pursuing compliance, while 75 onshore and offshore facilities are still not in compliance with the provisions of ISPS Code.
Listing other projects of the agency, the minister noted that under the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), NIMASA was training over 2,500 cadets at degree levels in Marine Engineering, Nautical Science and Naval Architecture in reputable institutions in Philippines, Egypt, India, Romania and the United Kingdom.
Findings show that 51 cadets under this programme have already graduated with B.Sc. in Nautical Science and Marine Engineering. 17 of these graduated from John Moore University Liverpool, 11 from South Tyneside College in Newcastle, and 23 from the Arab Academy of Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, Alexandra, Egypt.
“The agency has also established maritime institutes in four Nigerian universities, which include University of Lagos, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Niger-Delta University Amasoma in Bayelsa, and Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State. Two more institutes have been earmarked for the Federal University Kashere, Gombe State, and Anambra State University, Uli,” Umar explained.
He added that the institutes would quicken the pace for the development of human capacity that will take over from the NSDP and enhance the growth of cabotage trade.