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’’.
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.