By Stephen Ubanna
When Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, last July announced that the agency has started the restructuring the Nigerian Ship Registration office’’to ensure the utilisation of secured Statutory Certificates and prevent the entry of unseaworthy and sub-standard ships into Nigerian flag’’, industry stakeholders knew he is taking the country to a higher level in the International Maritime Community.
The NIMASA Director General may have gladdened the heart of Industry stakeholders when he revealed that the Maritime Regulatory agency ship registry certificates would be enhanced with new security features that would stand the test of time for easy verification.
The issuance of the automated Certificates , which Was introduced effect on July1, 2021, according to the NIMASA, Chief Executive officer, CEO, involved the Certificate of Nigerian Registry, Provisional Certificate of Registry, Certificate of Nigerian Registry for Bareboat, Chartered vessels, Fishing Boat and Certificate of Cabotage ship Registry for wholly owned Nigerian vessels
He had said that Venture owned vessels, Deletion Certificate, Bill of Sale and Transcript of Registry including the Certificate of Mortgage to secure Current Account and Certificate of Freedom of Encumbrance, have also been hanged.
Barely three months after the introduction of the new ship Registration Certificates, the agency has started ‘’the electronic verification of the new Ship Registration Certificates. An elated Jamoh had said that the agency adopted the technology ‘’ to guarantee more security for its documents and give industry stakeholders and the International shipping Community greater confidence in the agency services’’.
A Statement made available to The Value news online by Edward Osagie, an Assistant Director, in the agency Public Relations Department, shows that the new Ship Registry Certificates now have QR Codes, that is Quick Response Codes, embedded in them to enable the Ship owners, Industry stakeholders and the Regulatory Agency’s Enforcement officers verify the validity of the Certificates, as promised by the agency CEO, last July.
Meanwhile, Nneka Obiayo, the agency Registrar of Ships, had said that’’ security and business facilitation were major considerations in the introduction of electronic verification of new Ship Registry Certificates’’. She further stated that ‘’safety and security of Ships as well as ease of doing business are uppermost priority in the design and implementation of the electronic verification of the agency newly –introduced Ship Registry Certificates.
The NIMASA Ship Registrar who could hide her feelings, has assured industry stakeholders that ‘’with the blend of technology and creativity, it has introduced new features, which are intended to make the country Ship Registration Certificates to be more secure and easier to process’’.
In a related development, Jamoh, the NIMASA Director General, had confirmed that the agency have also ‘’commenced ‘’enforcement of full compliance with the marine environment protection statutory requirements and documentation on Nigerian and foreign flagged vessels operating within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, EEZ’’.
He averred that with the measures put in place, ‘’all ship owners and operators operating in Nigerian waters, are now required by Law’’ to update their vessels documentation , which include all permits and exemptions, levies, record books and plan approvals’’.He noted that ‘’this is also a pre-condition for further processing of any vessel or shipping company requests with the agency’’.
Unlike in the past where ship owners and operators flout the agency policies without any sanction, Osagie, the NIMASA spokesperson, had said that it is no longer going to business as usual. Hear him: NIMASA would mete out sanctions to operators who fail to comply with the relevant requirements with the marine environment protection statutory requirements and documents in Nigerian waters.
Recall that Jamoh, the NIMASA, helmsman , had said that the new move was in pursuant of the agency’s mandate ‘’to implement all provisions applicable to marine environment protection and documentation as enshrined in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships, MARPOL, 1973 and the Merchant shipping Act, 2007 and the NIMASA Act 2007.
The NMASA Director General, had old those that cares to listen that ‘’effective application of the environmental protection regulations in the nation’s maritime domain was crucial to the country’s quest for economic development.
He stressed that the agency’s major con wouldcern now is to bring the relevant industry stakeholders on board to facilitate a sound and seamless certification and marine environment protection regime. ‘’We are deliberate, methodical and strategic in the enforcement of the environmental requirements as they relate to the agency Laws and International regulations that the country is signatory to ‘’, he had said.
He maintains that ‘’a well-protected marine environment guarantee investors’ confidence which is a basic necessity for the maximization and optimization of the nation’s rich maritime endowments’’, that touches directly on the country’s economic diversification and sustainable development drive’’.
He has informed the industry stakeholders that the agency, under his close watch, is enthroning a sound and sustainable ,marine environment protection system that would serve the interests of both the country and the industry operators. It is not surprising why officials of the agency are working round the clock to ensure they bring stakeholders who are on the same page on board to work with them .