The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has started to go tough on vessels that do not comply with the provisions of the Cabotage Compliance Strategy. The agency’s Director-General, Dakuku Peterside, said in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, that a clampdown has become necessary after several warnings.
Apparently sparked by this development, some maritime experts are currently pressing NIMASA to involve unemployed seafarers into the maritime security outfit to create jobs and reduce despondency among cadets.
In interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, the experts said the spate of sea robbery in the nation’s waters could be reduced through job creation for unemployed seafarers. They also commended NIMASA for a recent training it conducted in Lagos for security agencies meant to secure the Nigerian maritime domain against rising cases of criminality.
The Register of Nigerian Institute of Shipping, Sampson Chima, said that seafarers, otherwise known as the merchant navy, were the masters of the sea and should form the nucleus of the water security outfit that the agency was putting up for maritime security.
According to him, ‘’these cadets of various maritime academy are well trained on the workings and nuances of water environment; with little security training, they can ensure security on the waters.’’
For the Offshore Manager of Africa Port Services Ltd., Demola Akinkunmi, ‘’seafarers, through their training, would know the creeks, the inland waters and the sea front better, adding that they were well positioned to provide security on it.
Continuing, he said, ‘’we have been having security issues on our waters; common sense ought to tell us to look for the solution on the side of this army of trained but unemployed seafarers. Somebody who is not schooled in sea operations cannot go and hijack vessel’’, insisting that the earlier the country implements this, the better for the shipping public.
Meanwhile, the NIMASA big boss said that the cabotage compliance strategy was introduced in 2018 to ease the implementation of the Cabotage Act 2003 in Nigeria, pointing out that the agency will no longer encourage the application of any form of waivers under the Cabotage Act.
Peterside said particularly from the oil firms operations, such waivers does not help the growth of the Nigerian maritime sector and economy at large. ‘’Our laws forbid foreign vessels operating in our territorial waters, save for compliance with the Cabotage Act. There shall be no sacred cow when we commence clampdown on erring vessels.
‘’We want to increase the number of Nigerians who participate in the marine aspect of our business. We are working closely with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to have a joint categorisation of vessels operating under the Cabotage Act in order to ensure the full implementation of the Act.’’
While also saying that the detention order for a Motor Tanker, MT NAVIGATOR CAPRICORN, which is a Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) carrier had been approved for contravening sections of the Cabotage Act, he added that the vessel was first boarded in October 2018 and all infractions of Cabotage non-compliance were noted and communicated accordingly to the charterer/owners representatives with 90 days grace period to comply.
He said the 90 days expired on Jan. 31, 2019. ‘’It is noteworthy that owners made undertaking to remedy the notable infractions when the vessel was issued a detention warning in October 2018’’, Peterside said.
He said NIMASA was currently engaging the owners and charterers of the vessel on the need to comply with the laws of the land, MT NAVIGATOR CAPRICORN had been moved to Lagos Anchorage to allow space for other LPG vessels to discharge at the NOJ Jetty.
Continuing, he said it was noteworthy that he led members of his team to meet with the Oil Producers Trade Sector (OPTS) in Lagos and accordingly urged industry players to draw up a five-year strategic plan for the cessation of application for cabotage waivers and also pursue the utilisation of Nigerian-owned vessels for marine contracts.
Peterside said, ‘’you will also recall that in August 2018, NIMASA introduced a new compliance strategy for cabotage implementation in Nigeria to ensure full implementation of the Cabotage Act, 2003 to secure jobs for qualified Nigerians in the maritime sector’’, adding that the agency, via a Marine notice, suspended considerations for applications of grant of waivers on manning for prescribed categories of officers in vessels engaged in Cabotage trade.
NIMASA, according to him, no longer considered application for granting of waivers on manning requirements for vessels engaged in coastal trade with regards to second officer, second engineer, second mate down to able seamen, ratings and stewards.