Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Ziakade Patrick Akpobolokemi has been at the helm of affairs at the Maritime House for exactly four years. As part of activities commemorating the end of his first four-year tenure and the commencement of the second, the NIMASA DG addressed a world press conference on Tuesday last week where he presented his scorecard to the media.
Babalola Yusuf who attended the press briefing on behalf of SHIPS & PORTS DAILY captured the highlights of Akpobolokemi’s speech.
To achieve maritime safety and security, the maritime administration must of necessity have the capacity to monitor activities in its entire maritime domain. Gentlemen of the press, I am happy to inform you that NIMASA has been able to achieve full domain awareness of its maritime environment, a feat that has not been attained before this present management was appointed. The Agency has utilised both technology and personnel to attain the present level of maritime domain awareness
NIMASA satellite surveillance centre
The NIMASA Satellite Surveillance Centre has been very crucial to the successes achieved by the Agency in terms of providing intelligence in the fight against piracy and other illicit crimes on the waterways. Launched in June this year, this facility has been instrumental to the Agency winning the war against piracy.
The NIMASA Satellite system was strategic in the successful operations to curb maritime breaches with the most recent being the Joint Task Force “Operation Pulo Shield” to interdict and arrest a vessel MT Skye that was involved in illegal lifting of crude oil in the coastal waters off Brass.
This facility provides intelligence to personnel of the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Air Force based on the Memorandum of Understanding the Agency has with the two security agencies to enhance Water patrol and Aerial surveillance of Nigeria’s maritime domain.
The Agency’s upgrading of its Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS) in Lagos, Bonny and Oron, and the Radar installation in Escravos, Bonny and Takwa Bay in Lagos will complement the satellite facility and further boost our domain awareness response capability when fully operational.
Improving ISPS Code compliance
NIMASA has vigorously pursued compliance with the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. Having established a full fledge Unit to drive and pilot the ISPS Code implementation, the Agency has adopted the ISPS Code Regulation, developed Guidelines and quick reference cards to enhance assessment, inspection enforcement and monitoring of Port facilities in the country. NIMASA has conducted security surveys, verification and inspection on a regular basis to ensure continuous improvement. Distinguished gentlemen of the press, it gives me pleasure to announce to you that over 38% of One hundred and twenty nine (129) port facilities in the country have fully complied. This comprises all the major ports in the country. This is a great improvement from the less than 7% compliance level before the appointment of NIMASA as the Designated Authority (DA) in 2013. Our goal is to attain over 90% compliance level before the end of 2015 by the continuous Verification Inspection Exercise (VIE) of Port facilities to maintain implementation pace and focus on continuous improvement.
The Agency has been able to gradually increase its Port State Control Performance in the last twelve months due to increase in our manpower capacity and availability of vessels for operations. I am delighted to inform you that the Secretary General of the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Port State Control recently commended NIMASA for being the foremost Port State Control Administration in the West and Central African Sub-Region just like other leading maritime stakeholders have commended NIMASA.
Operational and enforcement capability
A few years ago, the Agency entered into partnership with a competent Nigerian maritime company; Messers Global West Vessels Specialist Limited (GWSVSL) for the supply, operation, management and maintenance of operational platforms and associated electronic surveillance systems on a Public Private Partnership basis. This partnership has continued to yield dividends for the government and has helped the Agency to enforce its mandate. Prior to the concession contract, the Agency was practically constrained to enforce regulations and undertake any meaningful field operations as expected of a Maritime Administration. We have successfully reversed the trend as we now patrol our maritime domain with considerable capability to respond to marine emergencies within a reasonable time frame.
It is noteworthy that platforms available for the Agency to patrol the coastline have increased from a few vessels in the pre-concession era to a sizable number, which now include ocean-going vessels while other NIMASA owned vessels are being refurbished.
The NIMASA fleet include Search and Rescue Vessels, Pollution Control Vessels and Patrol Vessels, deployed by NIMASA in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy and other Security Agencies under the Maritime Guard Command.
The PPP project has also made it possible for the Agency to provide suitable platforms to the relevant security Agencies collaborating with us to fight piracy and other sundry security breaches in our waters. Accordingly, the Agency has successfully carried out number of rescue operations as well as tracked, interdicted and detained vessels engaged in criminal activities in our waters.
The Agency is also utilising the PPP initiative in the establishment of a new National Carrier, which is aimed at increasing Nigeria’s tonnage.
Nigeria Maritime University
As a forward-looking Management, this administration has tailored a long-term solution to the dearth of qualified professionals in the Nigerian Maritime sector; hence it conceived the Nigerian Maritime University (NMU).
The university will produce high level manpower for Nigeria’s maritime/shipping sector on sustainable basis. It will provide training for seafarers, master mariners, marine engineers, naval architects, nautical scientists and other specialised maritime/shipping trade skills. The NMU is envisaged to become a Centre of Excellence in innovative research for the maritime sector in the West and Central Africa sub-region when it fully evolves.
Academic activities are expected to commence at the beginning of the next academic calendar, and we would continue to discharge our statutory obligations to the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron in order to further grow human capacity in the Maritime sector.
You are aware that the Agency has established six Institutes of maritime Studies in the University of Lagos, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University Lapai, Niger State, Niger Delta University Amasoma, Bayelsa State, Federal University Kashere Gombe State and the Anambra State University Uli.
Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP)
It is worth noting that under the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), which started five years ago, over 2,500 young Nigerians have benefitted or are currently enjoying various levels of sponsorship in schools in the United Kingdom, Egypt, Romania, India and Philippines.
The scheme has so far graduated about 74 beneficiaries from three institutions namely; John Moores University Liverpool and South Tyneside College Newcastle both in the United Kingdom as well as the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport Alexandria Egypt.
The NSDP, the Institutes and Universities we believe will greatly help grow capacity in the maritime sector in the nearest future.
The commitment of the present leadership of the Agency on human capital development is total. This is in recognition of the fact that this forms the basic requirement to grow any sector. We identify the fact that a well-trained workforce provides the ingredient for a highly productive sector.
The adoption and subsequent ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006) of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) by Nigeria is a deliberate corollary to this.
The MLC 2006 which is now fully operational in Nigeria is expected to improve the working and living conditions of seafarers thus making our environment and seafarers globally competitive.
NIMASA shipyard and dockyard
Our dream for the NIMASA Shipyard and Dockyard is to transform the maritime sector into an industry that will generate capable local manpower, which, will contribute significantly to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
The vision behind the shipyard and dockyard project is to have a world-class building and repair facility that will be commercially viable to transform the nation’s economy. The project is being developed in two phases. Phase one is the ship building facility to handle smaller vessels and maintain ships plying the nation’s inland waterways while the second phase is planned for a facility that will handle ocean-going vessels and offshore installations which will serve the oil and gas industry.
Implementation of Cabotage
It is has been more than ten years since the Cabotage regime came into force in Nigeria and from the time we took over the affairs of the Agency, it has been a point of duty to regularly interact with stake holders in the industry, not only as a means of sensitization and information dissemination on cabotage policy issues , but also as a feedback mechanism through which the Agency gauges the impact level of its implementation efforts and also note the opinions and complaints of the stakeholders.
As stated in the various fora, the Nigerian Cabotage law seeks to impose some form of restrictions or complete prohibition on foreigners from participating in the internal transport business of our country purely on economic grounds. This is aimed at building indigenous capacity in maritime tonnage, infrastructure and labour. The hallmark of the law is the provision that all coastal trade vessels must be owned by Nigerians, manned by Nigerians, built in Nigeria and registered in Nigeria.
Part of the success story we have recorded is the development of structures for implementation and enforcement of the Cabotage regime, creation of a special register for cabotage vessels which as at the last count hundreds of vessels have been registered, developed modalities for the collection of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) and disbursing banks have been selected. The first recipients have been shortlisted and sent to the Federal Ministry of Transport (FMOT) for final approval; we are confident that in due time operators would start accessing the fund.
I wish to state at this juncture that NIMASA as a government Organisation is statutorily not empowered to utilize all or part of the CVFF in its custody. These monies have been in our banks and I wish to authoritatively tell you that the monies are intact.
It is our sincere commitment and pledge to consolidate on these modest achievements in the next four years.
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