International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has condemned Nigeria and other countries in West and Central African sub-region for being apathetic to Port State Control and audit compliance policies in their domain, BAYO AKOMOLAFE reports
One of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s main roles is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that will be fair and effective, universally implemented in order to promote safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping.
However, the benefits from such a regulatory framework can only be achieved if all member states carry out their obligations as required by the instruments to which they are parties.
However, Nigeria and other countries in West and Central Africa have failed woefully in the implementation of the IMO instruments, which could improve shipping. Worried by this, IMO’s Head, Africa Section, William Azuh, said that non-chalant attitude to issues of IMO Audit, Port State Control (PSC) and poor disposition in the vast maritime space were the major challenges facing Nigeria and other countries in the international maritime community.
For instance, he noted that the region would have long gained greater recognition and immense benefits of the international maritime community if their heads of maritime administrations were serious.
Azuh noted that while nearly a 100 per cent of the relevant maritime organisations had been audited, none has seriously processed the necessary audit feedback over five years after the strategic auditing in Nigeria and other countries in the sub-region.
According to him, “actions on the Corrective Action Plan (CAP) have been very very dismal; to say the least, it’s been extremely low, and I will tell you why. If there is no feedback from the audits, you will then wonder why your administrations were audited in the first place. “IMO is willing and able to assist the respective countries to implement those corrective action plans, but the initiation will have to come from you.
Now, let’s look at the outcome of the audit itself; since the commencement of the audit in its mandatory phase, that was in January 2016; 20 African member-states were audited. I will mention the names: Cape-Verde, the Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote D ‘Ivoire, Garbon, Ghana, Equitoria Guinea, Djibouti, Kenya, Sao Tome and Princippe, Madagascar, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra-Leone, Tanzania, the Gambia, Sudan and Togo.”
Nevertheless, he said that since the beginning of the mandatory phase of the audit, not a single training for auditors had been conducted in the African region, saying that this was not due to IMO’s unwillingness but because the sub-region didn’t actually make any requests in that direction.
Azuh added that all audited member states were provided with an audit final report that reflected the agreed action plan to be effectively implemented after three to four years, following the IMO recommendations.
He noted that only six member states out of 20 have so far provided a soft form of the corrected action guide. In addition, he said that the procedure was further simplified by ensuring that the Corrective Action Plan (CAP) model forms were sent to the member-states, to be used when communicating with the IMO. However, it was discovered that not even one of the audited African member-states had completed, terminated or effectively implemented the agreed CAP.
He noted that out of the 23 auditors it trained, only three were ever nominated to attend IMO events. It was like remarkably calling attention that those nominations for IMO events were being treated like gratification, totally devoid of the serious business that it is.
Nevertheless, Azuh lauded the directors general and heads of maritime administration, particularly the NPA Managing Director, Mohammed Bello- Koko; Abuja MoU Boss, Sunday Umoren; the Secretary-General, MOWCA; the IMO Consultant, Mfon Ekong Usoro and the Ports State Control officers, among others, for ensuring that the region was protected from undue activities of substandard ships, often referred to as rusty buckets.
Speaking on the neglect of training, he noted that the last training conference on the issue was held in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, 10 years ago, under the supervision of former Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Director-General, Mfon Ekong Usoro and pleaded that the next training should not be so elusive.
He assured that IMO would assiduously work with every region to ensure things actually get better.
Azuh said: “So the auditors will start the audit in the second cycle with the heritage of non-addressed findings, as the findings in the first one have not been addressed and we are now going into the second cycle. So, the observed gaps will still be there.
“With my colleagues in the member-states audit department of IMO, we have now decided to plan a dedicated high-level forum to specifically discuss the impacts and provide practical guidance, good response and find desired solutions.”
Nigeria should take the issue of Port State Control very seriously to enable it become a maritime natio