Maritime: Nigerian Government Approves Six IMO, Conventions, Protocols For Ratification And Implementation

By Stephen Ubanna

 Former President Muhammadu Buhari, may have left office but his efforts to take the nation’s maritime sector to another level by ratifying the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, a United Nations, UN, maritime agency, Conventions and Protocols, that will boost the nation’s maritime sector, remains legendary. 

 From equipping the Nigerian Maritime Authority and Safety Agency, NIMASA, under the under the Leadership of Bashir Jamoh, OFR, with the required maritime security equipment to deal decisively with the Pirates and other sea thieves operating in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Gulf of Guinea, the story of the nation’s maritime sector, would be different this time around as the Nigerian government ratifies the   six approved IMO, Conventions and Protocols. 

Given the importance of the Conventions and Protocols to global maritime nations, including Nigeria, may have informed why Jamoh, and Director General, NIMASA, was said to have used his close working relationships with the Taraba state born politician, Engr. Muazu Jaji Sambo, a former minister of Transportation, described in maritime circles as   a participant in the industry, to get the former Katsina state born Nigerian President’   to approve the six UN, maritime agency  Conventions and Protocols  for ratification.

An elated Jamoh had said that  the approved IMO, Conventions and Protocols, if finally   ratified  and implemented by the designated authority, which is NIMASA,,  it  will  go a long way ‘’to promote  a cleaner  maritime environment , ship breaking criteria and global  standard  for fishing crew  and response  to oil pollution causalities’’ in the nation’s maritime sector’’.

The NIMASA, Director General General , who could not hide his feelings was said to have thanked  the Federal government   for the approval of the six  Maritime   Conventions and Protocols  to be ratified  as  other  maritime nations , have done, noting that ‘’it will  kick start the country’s preparation  to align  with  the global maritime Community’’.

He was said to have  reassured industry stakeholders   of the agency ‘s  unflinching efforts as the designated  authority as the implementing agency   ‘’to draw  the gains  of the various Instruments  closer  to the  indigenous investors  , Professionals  and all other stakeholders  in Nigeria’’.

Ajani: Permanent Secretary Federal ,Ministry Of Transportation

A Given an insider information, Osagie  Edward,  an Assistant Director and the agency spokesperson  has outlined the approved six IMO, Conventions and Protocols  by the government for  ratification was conveyed  to the agency  through  the ministry of Transportation, currently being run  by  Magadalene Ajani,  the ministry’s Permanent Secretary since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is yet to appoint ministers. 

   The six approved, IMO, Conventions and Protocols  as stated by Edward, the NIMASA, spokesperson  in a   statement to be ratified  by the Nigerian government ,  include the Hong Kong  International Convention  for Safe and  Environmentally  Sound Recycling  of Ships 2009,  International Convention  on Standards of Training  and Certification   and Watch keeping  for  Fishing Vessel personnel, STCW-F,  1995,Protocol  Relating  to Intervention  on the High Seas in Cases  of Oil Pollution   Causalities   intervention, 1973,   and  the Protocol  on  the Limitation  of Liabilities  for Maritime Claims, 1996.

This is in addition  to the 1974  Athens, Greece, Convention  Relating  to the carriage  of Passengers  and their Luggage  and the Protocol  of 2005 to 2008 protocol  to the Suppression  of Unlawful  Acts Against  the Safety  of Fixed Platforms  Located   on  the Continental Shelf, SUA Protocol 2005.

The Hong Kong,  Instrument according to Jamoh, the NIMASA,  Chief Executive Officer, CEO,   is aimed  at  ensuring that ‘’ships ,when being recycled  after reaching  the end of  the operational lives, do not pose risks to human health, safety or to the environment’’. The Athens  Convention , the Value News was informed  was said to have been  designed  ‘’to consolidate  and harmonise  two earlier  Conventions  of the UN, maritime agency,  dealing with  passengers  and luggage  and adopted  in 1961 and  1967, respectively.  The Convention was said to have established a regime of liability or damage suffered by passengers carried on a seagoing vessel.

Going by an IMO , report made available to The Value News online Magazine , ‘’it declares  a carrier  liable for  damage or loss suffered  by a passenger  if the accident  causing  the damage occurred  in the course  of the carriage  and was due to the fault  or neglect  of the carrier’’.

There is a caveat  to the Convention, that if  the carrier  acted with  intent  to cause  such damage , or recklessly  and with knowledge   that such  damage  would probably result , can limit his liability.

The Convention was said to have made it clear that ‘’for the death of or personal injury to a passenger, this limit of liability is set at 46,666 Special Drawing Rights, SDR, per carriage. It was learnt that the Convention which came into force in 2002, has produced ‘’compulsory insurance to cover passengers on ships and substantially raised those limits to 250,000 SDR, per passenger on each distinct occasion’’.

As for  the loss or damage to the passenger’s luggage  on sea going vessels,  the carrier’s limit of liability , according to the IMO, report varies , depending  on whether  the loss or  damage occurred in respect  of cabin luggage , of a vehicle  and or luggage carried  in or on it , in respect  of  other luggage.

Enough on the Athens Convention. We turn to the STCW-F,1995, which Jamoh, the NIMSA, CEO, had said  is a binding  treaty   that  sets  certification  and minimum training requirements  for crews  of seagoing  fishing  vessels  with the aim  ‘’to promote  the safety  of life at sea and the protection of the marine  environment , taking into account  the unique nature  of the  fishing industry  and the fishing working environment’’.

The Convention, an IMO  source, had said  is a ‘’key  building block  in the promotion  of safety at  sea  by setting the necessary framework  to ensure  the provision  of duly skilled and trained personnel  in the global fisheries sector’’. The argument in IMO, circles was that a ‘’better trained  personnel  to man the fishing vessels  will decrease  the likelihood  of fatal  accidents  and  further decrease  the loss of lives at seas and improve  general  safety  of fishing  operations’’.

The Convention,  the source asserted,  supports  ‘’the harmonization  of qualifications  by introducing  a minimum  level  of training  for everyone  working on fishing vessels  to which  the  intervention applies. This I turn, the IMO , source  had said  facilitates  free mobility of workers  between countries  that were said to have ratified  and implemented  the Convention  and thus creates a level playing  field in the sector.

Investigation shows that in most high seas, over the years,   fishing trawlers, particular, pelagic trawlers , tuna long liners and purse seiners, the percentage of  migrant  workers  had  decreased  rapidly  but in  the small- scale vessel  segment  the number of migrant workers  are rising  as, in some countries, making it  more challenging   to find youths interested  in getting a job  in the fisheries sector of the economy. Many believe that the wide ratification and enforcement of the IMO, Instruments will ‘’reduce the cost of search and rescue operations and connected administrative costs’’.

On the Convention   on Limitation for Maritime claims, LLMC, with its amendments which was said to have come into force  in in June 8, 2015 were said to have been specified  majorly for two  types  of claims-  loss of life  or personal injury  and property claims  such as  damage to other ships, property or  harbor works.

The limits of maritime claims under the IMO, 1996, Convention was said to have been set at 333,000 Special Drawing Rights, SDR, for personal claims for ships not exceeding 500 tons and an additional amount based on the tonnage.  The limit for other claims was said to have been fixed   at 167,000 SDR and an additional amounts based on tonnage on ships exceeding 500 tons.

Note that under the under the amendments  to the 1996 ,protocol,  the limits  of liability  for claims  for loss of life  or personal injury on ships  not exceeding  2,000, gross tonnage was said to have been raised  to 3.02 million SDR, up  from the initial  2 million  benchmark. But for larger vessels, of the range, between 30,000 tons to 70,000 tons, the SDR, were said to be much higher.

The  last but  not the least to be looked at  among the six  IMO, Conventions and Protocols that have been approved  to be ratified by the government   was the Convention  for  the suppression  of Unlawful  Acts Against  the Safety  of Maritime Navigation and Protocol  for the Suppression  of Unlawful Acts  Against  the Safety  of Fixed Platforms  located in Continental shelf, 2005 and 2008, which was said to have come into force in July , 2010.

Going by the article 2b , of the  SUA , Convention,   ‘’a person  commits an offence, ‘’ if he or she  unlawfully  and  intentionally , or when  the action of the person   by its nature or context, is  to intimidate  a population  or to compel the government or an  international  Organisation    to do or  to abstain  from committing   any act against   a fixed platform  or discharges from a fixed  platform   any explosive , radioactive  material , including  biological, chemi or nuclear weapon  , popular , BCN,from  a ship, that discharges oil, liquefied  natural gas, LPG,  and other harzardous  or noxious  substance  in such a quantity   or concentration   that are likely to  cause death  or serious injury or damage,  or threatens  to commit  an offence.

It was not surprising why industry stakeholders are very happy that the Nigerian government at long last has agreed to ratify the six IMO , Conventions and Protocols , for the good of the country, particular, the indigenous ship owners. Vintage Jamoh.

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