By Stephen Ubanna
Bashir Jamoh, OFR, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has assured the member states of the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, of the West and Central African sub-regions, that ’’Nigeria is committed to the effective implementation of the Abuja MoU Port State Control, PSC, procedures and practices.
The NIMASA Director General who spoke at the 13th Port State Control Committee Meeting of the Abuja MoU, hosted by the Government of the West African country of Coted’Ivoire, in Abidjan, may have thrown a challenge to the member states of the Abuja MoU, Port State Control, PSC, Committee, when he said that the Nigerian Maritime Administration had used its weight to ensure ‘’the ratification of six International Maritime Conventions for proper governance of the country’s maritime space and to also make an impact in the Organisation.
The NIMAS, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, disclosed that the ratified Conventions had spelt out the proper mode of governance for various areas in the country’s maritime operations such as standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for the fishing sector including pollution management and carriage of passenger luggage by sea.
It is on record that the Nigerian Government had ratified the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of SHIPS 2009, International Convention of Standard of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for fishing vessel personnel, ( STCW-F) ,1995, and Protocol Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties (Intervention Protocol) ,1973.
Other International Conventions that was said to have been ratified by the Nigerian Government includes the Protocol on Limitation of Liability For Marine Claims, LLMC, 1996, Protocol to the 1974 Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Lu13th Port State Control Committee Luggage by Sea, 2002 and Protocol of 2005 to the 1988 Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Act against the Safety of Fixed Platforms located on the Continental Shelf(SUA PROT 2005).
Adegboyega Otedola, a former governor of Osun state and now minister of newly created Marine and Blue Economy ministry, who also doubles as the Chairman of the Abuja MoU, may have used the opportunity provided by the Cotd’Ivoire meeting to charge the regulatory agencies and stakeholders in the member states of the Abuja MoU, PSC, Committee in the West and Central African subregions ‘’to ensure that their maritime domains remain safe , secure and environmentally friendly’’.
The Nigerian minister of Marine and Blue Economy, was said to have reiterated at the Abuja MOU, Port State Control Committee meeting hosted by the Government of the West African country of Coted’Ivoire at Abidjan, that there is need for the 22 member states of the Abuja MoU, PSC, Committee, ‘’to achieve full ratification and domestication of the relevant international Conventions, instruments and compliance of the Law by the member states to respect at least 15% of ocean going vessels calling at their respective ports.
The minister had identified other areas that needed to be given adequate attention by the member states of the Abuja MoU, Port State Control Committee such as’’ the imperative of recruitment and subsequent training of the PSC, Officers to avoid over burdening the few PSCOs in the field’’.
A total of 64,943 ocean going vessels laden with cargoes that had called at the two regions in the African Continent in 2021, were said to have been inspected the PSCs in the regions and 23 detained over alleged undisclosed reasons. The detention of vessels in the 2021, fiscal tear were said to be much higher than the preceding year of 2020.
The former Osun state governor had said that’’ there is also the need for the Abuja MoU, Port State Control Committee member states to Collaborate and ensure that ‘’no substandard vessel is allowed to trade within the subregions’. An insider told the online Magazine the detention of vessels in the West and Central African sub-regions has remained an area of discussions at the subsequent Abuja MOU, Port State PSC, Committee meetings and training of PSCOs ‘’to ensure equitable consequence management and Objective inspections’’.
The Abuja MOU, described in maritime circles as’’ the body responsible for harmonizing PSC, procedures and practices in the West and Central African sub-regions’’, had made a bold statement at the onset ‘’to eliminate the operation of substandard vessels trading within the two sub-regions’ to enhance maritime security, safety and protection of the marine environment from pollution and improving the working and living conditions of the ship crew’’.
Although, Umoren, the Abuja MoU, Secretary General had said that out of the 22 member states of the maritime body, four countries are yet to be full participating members. Thehe Abuja MoU, Secretary General had said recently that efforts are being made to get the four countries – Democratic Republic of Congo, , Equatorial Guinea, Namibia and Mauritania to become full member .
Indeed, the refusal of the four countries to join the Abuja MoU as full members may have informed why the Leadership had established Communication with them and making real progress to ensure all the 22 countries that are in the West and Central African sub-regions become full members of the body for easy Coordination of their PSC, operations.
Note that NIMASA and the Nigerian government over the years have kept the Abuja MOU, going with the necessary financial support. That much was confirmed by SUmoren, the Abuja MOU, Secretary General. The Master Mariner, and the Abuja MOU, Secretary General, had said that as other member states are willing ‘’to come on board in fulfilling their financial obligations to the body the story will change for good’’.
The Abuja , MoU,Secretary General , was said to have assured member states of ‘’the continuous engagement sessions to ensure regional Collaboration ‘’to attain globally acceptable OSC, in the West and Central African sub-regions after the Nigerian meeting that was said to have been held between 1th and 12th October , 2021.
He was said to have told industry stakeholders and the member states that‘’ it is through such engagements that the Abuja MOU, Leadership have been able ‘’to secure the Commitment of member states ‘’to be up to date in their payments’.
Osagie Edward, an Assistant Director and NIMASA, spokesperson in a Statement issued at the end of the Abuja MOU, Port State Control Committee of the West and Central African sub-regions in Cote d’Ivoire stated that ‘’the Performance of the member States on PSC Inspections and financial status amongst others formed part of their deliberations’’.
The NIMASA spokesperson further disclosed that women in Maritime, in the West and Central African, WIMOWCA, sub-regions, had attended the Abuja MOU, Port State Control Committee meeting hosted by Coted’Ivoire in their ‘’Observer status capacity’’.