Nigeria gets 20 ships under joint ventures
In this report, PAUL OGBUOKIRI examines the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency’s strategic implementation of its core mandates and its impact on the Nigerian maritime industry and the Nation’s economic development.
Shipping development/Service delivery
Before now, the issue of double billing, over/under billing had been a major setback to shipping trade on the Nigerian waters with ship-owners wishing they could avoid Nigeria.
However, speaking last Friday in Lagos at the pre-NIMASA Maritime Industry Awards and Corporate Dinner, Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside disclosed that his management has introduced what he called ‘Final Billing’ system which has put to rest the age-long problem.
He said the system ensures appropriate closure on all vessel transactions within a period of two weeks after departure. Sunday Telegraph learnt that this has led to improved customer satisfaction.
Dakuku also said that the agency has made major strides in the drive for improved maritime domain awareness. “With the use of satellite surveillance technologies, in combination with intelligence systems, we are able to identify, with a consistent 365 days and a five-year profile, all vessels that visit our Exclusive Economic Zone. We are further able to identify vessels that are believed to be engaging in suspicious activities and take appropriate actions,” he said.
He disclosed that the agency also facilitated the participation of indigenous operators at international maritime expos and Trade Fairs creating the much needed link between the local operators and their foreign counterparts, saying the aim was to move from opportunities to realities. “A remarkable success story in this regard is the facilitation of the match-making of indigenous operators with foreign partners for various international engagements.
“Currently, a portal is being created on the agency’s website where the list of all categories of maritime operators and services provided would be hosted for match-making and direct contact by business interests around the world. This brings visibility and credibility to indigenous operators being projected by the Maritime Administration in Nigeria,” he said.
In an attempt to arrest the drift in the implementation of the Cabotage Act, NIMASA came up in 2019 with a five-year strategic plan, beginning 2021, to end in stages the grant of Cabotage waiver.
According to Dakuku Peterside, the winding down process is phased to avoid major disruptions to the Cabotage trade. He said the plan is to achieve the key objectives of the Cabotage Act in terms of in-country construction, ownership, manning, and flagging of ships engaged in coastal trade by 2024.
He stated that the process of bringing the grant of Cabotage waiver to a gradual end has already begun, with the agency launching a renewed effort to implement the provisions of the Cabotage Act.
“NIMASA has adopted a strategy of encouraging Nigerians to go into joint ventures and joint ownership of vessels with foreign operators on a 60-40 basis, and this has started yielding fruit with about 20 new vessels currently flying the Nigerian flag under this arrangement, as against one in 2018. Bareboat charter of vessels has witnessed an increase, while foreign-owned vessels on Nigeria’s Cabotage register have witnessed a decline,” he said.
Dakuku further announced that there has been an increase in the number of wholly-owned Nigerian vessels on the Nigerian Cabotage register, saying the 2018 half year result showed that 125 vessels were registered, representing a 33 per cent increase when compared with the 94 registered in the corresponding period in 2017.
He said currently, there are more than 200 vessels captured in the Cabotage register, adding that about 68 per cent of vessels trading within the country’s maritime space are Nigerian-flagged.
He also said that one of the critical agencies NIMASA is collaborating with in the capacity-building and Cabotage waiver cessation strategy is the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
NCDMB has the mandate to build local capacity in the oil and gas sector in line with the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act. Industry watchers say the NIMASA/NCDMB cooperation is already yielding fruit, as both agencies have achieved the categorisation of vessels for uniformity and harmonised enforcement.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that the collaboration has also helped in the conduct of capacity audit of existing shipyards and maritime training institutions in the country.
Meanwhile, NIMASA said that it is working with the Federal Government and the Federal Ministry of Transportation to ensure that the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) is done as soon as possible.
Maritime safety and security
Though Nigerian waters is not yet as safe as it is expected to be, Nigeria was adjudged most outstanding in Port and Flag State Control in the West and Central Africa Sub-Region by the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2019. The country had the highest port state inspection in Abuja MOU.
The country conducted more Certificate of Competency examinations, inaugurated Search and Rescue volunteers in 10 coastal states, developed and implemented biometric data for non-conventional vessels and small boats and automated of process of issuance of Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) and Call Sign.
However, in order to stamp out piracy and maritime robbery, the agency in collaboration with the Ministries of Transportation, Defence, the Nigerian Navy and other relevant security agencies is tackling the issues relating to maritime security through a multidimensional solution, said Dakuku.
He said African leaders have also met at various times to brainstorm and find a lasting solution to the security challenges in the GoG, with Nigeria taking the lead, to ensure a robust African maritime sector that will attract more participation from the international community.
He said part of the strategies includes, the 2050 African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) and its Plan of Action, including a roadmap for the incremental implementation of the strategy in line with international maritime law, were adopted. This is in addition to the Yaoundé Code of Conduct, the Djibouti Code of Conduct, and the Lome Charter, among other strategies.
According to him, the strategies are geared towards actualising a safe and secure maritime domain by tackling all forms of maritime crimes in the West and Central Africa Sub-region, including the Gulf of Guinea.
He added that these attempts to address the maritime security issues and deliver a secure marine environment fit perfectly into the Blue Economy concept across the globe. According to him, the concept focuses on creating the opportunities for a more sustainable ocean economy where there is better alignment between economic growth and the health of the ocean with the involvement of the government.
He further disclosed that the Federal Government in its determination to stamp out piracy and all forms of illegalities in the nation’s territorial waters conceived the Deep Blue Project
To execute the Deep Blue Project, the services of the Homeland Security International (HLSI) from Israel was engaged to help Nigeria in the training of personnel and procurement of hardware for the safety and security of the country’s waterways and the Gulf of Guinea, Dakuku said.
Perhaps, the biggest achievement in the area of maritime labour last year was the tripartite agreement signed by stakeholders, which NIMASA facilitated.
Reports indicate that the agency negotiated and ensured that the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was concluded and endorsed by the tripartite parties under the National Joint Industrial Council for Seafarers and Dockworkers (NJIC).
NIMASA, in conjunction with the tripartite stakeholders (Employers and Employees), successfully completed the International Labour Organisation (ILO) reports on Maritime Labour Conventions (MLC, 2006 and Dockwork Convention, 1973). Investigation revealed that Nigeria’s approach and model of reports has been commended by ILO and recommended for use by other member states of the ILO.
According to Dakuku, the continued progress of Maritime Labour employment of seafarers in 2019, in particular, is attributed to the suspension of manning waiver by ensuring shipping companies submit a mandatory replacement and training.
Meanwhile, as the agency updated the records of all registered Nigerian employed dockworkers and Stevedoring Companies in the review year, it relied on the quality and integrity of its inspection to ascertain the compliance of stevedoring companies, Terminal operators, Dockworkers, Manning agents, Seafarers employers and Seafarers to ensure they are in line with international standards.
Dakuku revealed that NIMASA’s determination to develop the Nation’s maritime labour in 2019 was responsible for the quantum leap of the number seafarers placed on board vessel in 2019 by 3,179 from 4,235 in 2018 to 7,414 in 2019.
On the Nigeria Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), Sunday Telegraph learnt that the number of graduates with Certificate of Competence (CoC) rose from 340 in 2018 to 492 in 2019; students on shipboard training increased from 239 in 2018 to 413 in 2019. Those that have completed sea time training and waiting to pass CoC didn’t change from the 2018 figure of 115; this is even as the student awaiting sea time training decreased from 1113 in 2018 to 811 in 2019; and the ones undergoing shore based training decreasing from 75 in 2018 and 51 last year. It was further learnt that the agency facilitated training on basic and specialised courses for Nigerian Seafarers with the aim of bridging the gap of unqualified seafarers and the shortage of qualified seafarers within the country.
Other important strides in 2019
The agency commenced moves to ensure that Nigeria has a registry that can meet international certification standards and compete favourably with the best in the global maritime community.
Since the creation of the ISPS Code Unit of NIMASA, it has according to Dakuku Peterside recorded achievements, which include: passage of the ISPS Code Implementation Regulations in December 2014, appointment of Lead Recognised Security Organisation (RSO) and other RSOs to fill the capacity gaps in physical assessment of port facilities, discovery of new ISPS Code applicable port facilities, creating awareness and fostering collaboration among stakeholders in ISPS implementation, and training of personnel.
Other achievements include the fact that over 20 Nigerian port facilities were exempted from imposition of United States Coast Guard (USCG) special Conditions of Entry (CoE) on vessels that had called at the facilities; successful completion of PFSA and PFSP for a substantial number of facilities; more than 90 per cent compliance within the country’s facilities; and issuance of Documents of Compliance to compliant facilities.
It was further learnt that the agency is doing a lot in the area of managing and maintaining the country’s marine environment by engaging the services of marine litter marshals. NIMASA is determined to ensure cleaner oceans safe for navigation.
Not left among the strides of the agency’s strides in the preceding year was its determination to ensuring and promoting gender equality in the maritime sector, continuing with its Maritime Industry Forecast which it began in 2018 and the annual dinner and awards which held yesterday.