NIMASA inspects 6,300 vessels in 2012
… As Nigerian ports lose 5.2m metric tonnes of cargo
The nation’s apex maritime regulatory organ, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) carried out flag state inspections on no fewer than 5,274 vessels as part of its safety initiatives in 2012.
This is even as Nigerian ports experienced a dip in fortunes, losing 5.2 million metric tonnes of cargo last year.
Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, who disclosed these in Abuja on Monday during the 2013 Ministerial Platform organised by the Federal Ministry of Information to highlight the mid-term achievements of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, said that NIMASA also carried out port state inspections on 595 vessels and conditional survey of 507 vessels.
Umar also said that the Agency carried out 168 search and rescue intervention and arrested 53 vessels for oil theft and piracy.
NIMASA, according to him, has remained steadfast in enhancing maritime safety and security on the nation’s territorial waters.
“In order to effectively curtail piracy, armed robbery and other maritime crimes at sea, the, Agency engaged a service provider, Messrs. Global West Vessels Specialist to provide platform which includes patrol and enforcement boats and electronic software to enforce its mandate. This is in line with the provisions of Section 23(3) and (4) of NIMASA Act.
“Under the agreement, the service provider is expected to provide a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 20 boats. 13 armoured boats and 12 conventional boats have been procured, bringing the current total fleet to 25 boats. 3 additional armored boats are expected in the next few months,” the Minister said.
He said that there is an existing memorandum of understanding (MoU) between NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy (NN) to ensure safety and security of lives and property on the waterways, with NIMASA expected to provide the platform and logistics, while the Navy is to provide armed personnel in line with its constitutional mandate to patrol the waterways.
Umar said that six marine accidents were recorded in the country between February 11, 2011, and 9th January 9, 2012.
He also disclosed that three armed robbery incidents, and two vessel hijackings in which two people were killed and seven others rescued, were recorded over the past one year.
Responding to questions on the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), the Transport Minister said the fund has grown to N30.55 billion as at April 2013, while disbursement to six pre-qualified companies through select banks will commence soon.
On the 5.2 million metric tonnes cargo loss recorded by Nigerian ports, the Transport Minister explained that cargo throughput at the six major seaports in the country, namely: Lagos Port Complex, Tin-Can Island Port, Rivers Port, Onne Port Complex, Calabar Port and Delta Ports in 2012 stood at 77 million metric tonnes; down by 6.3 per cent from 82.8 million metric tonnes throughput figure of 2011.
He blamed the drop in the 2012 cargo volume on government policy, especially the ban on the importation of bulk cement and “challenges in the era of subsidy payment for petroleum product Importation.”
The Minister further disclosed that, before the sharp decline in 2012, cargo throughput had risen consistently from 66.9 million metric tonnes in 2009 to 75 million metric tonnes in 2010 and 82.8 million metric tonnes in 2011.
Umar also gave a breakdown of the combined ship traffic at the ports, as: 4,620 in 2009; 4,962 in 2010; 5,327 in 2011 and 4,868 in 2012.
He said that government has stepped up efforts to deepen port reforms in the country with the dredging of the various port channels to attract large ocean – going vessels.
He said: “There is continuous dredging and maintenance of the channels through the established channel management companies to deepen the channels and the berth areas. Lagos channel depth by 2010 was about 10 metres but now 13.5 metres to 14 metres while the quay side was 9 metres in 2010 but now 14 metres. Bonny was 7.5 metres in 2010 but is now 9.5 metres. Efforts are now intensified to deepen it to allow for bigger vessels to call.”
He also said that appreciable progress has been recorded in inland water transportation as a result of the successful dredging of the lower River Niger, with 35,136 boats, ferries, barges and other vessels navigating the dredged channel in 2012, as against 15,000 in 2011 and 10,000 in 2010.