By Chinonye Anyatonwu
Looking at the performance and activities of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), under its Director-General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh , is believed the appointment was not done in error. Since he took over the affairs at the agency after the expiration of the tenure of the former DG, Dakuku Peterside two years ago, has skillfully provided leadership placing the agency in its right place.
Dr. Jamoh who took the mantle of leadership at NIMASA on 10th of March, 2020, exactly the time the Country was already battling the (COVID-19) Pandemic, when the agency under the former DG, Dr. Dakuku Peterside was already setting his record .
The agency which has the improvement of the port and flag state functions which are the core maritime safety as its mandate has seen some remarkable performances in some areas of this mandate
In the area of Port State Inspection (PSI), the year 2017 had 525, 2018 had 659 with a 38% increase, 2019 had 725 recording 10% increasing over the year 2018 figure, but the covid-19 pandemic influenced the figures of the year 2020 as the year recorded 510 of the 5,035 vessels calls with a -29.65% decrease over the preceding year.
The Flag State Inspections representing the State Renewal Inspections for the year 2018 is 1,737, 2019 is 2,580 representing 2,123 renewal Inspections, 276 condition survey and 181 Random Flag State Surveys with a 49% increase over the figures of the year 2018, 2020 has a figure of 2,244 with a -13% decrease and this can also be attributed to the effect of the covid-19 pandemic.
There were certain unfortunate incidents of marine accidents though as the recorded figure for year 2018 is 21 with the figure of 2019 reads 22 incidents of marine accidents with investigation on some of the incidents still ongoing.
The Agency over time has taken certain steps to mitigate the effects of maritime insecurity with therefore sponsored passage of the Suppression of Piracy and other maritime offences bill, the establishment of the integrated national maritime surveillance and security infrastructure, the ISPFS (code) implementation among other measures like alliances, cooperation and collaboration with national and international authorities for improved maritime safety and efficient port operations.
The launch of the Deep Blue Project, a project which has the endorsement of the president of Nigeria on the 11th of May, 2021 has been a big boost in the capacity of the Agency as well as its capability to handle security matters with the willing cooperation of all the major security arms of the federal government deeply involved in the project.
Thus, this project is generally seen as contributing to the forestalling of insecurity and enhancing security. The Agency provided certain equipment such as two special vessels, seventeen fast interceptor boats, two unmanned aerial vehicles and sixteen armoured vehicles for the Deep Blue Project and these hate since been readily deployed to the Nigerian Navy and effectively working.
There are also various cooperation agreements with regional and international maritime authorities to provide security and drastically curb piracy around the nation’s maritime areas.
According to the release, In the area of the Human Capital Development, NIMASA has continued in its statutory financial contributions to the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron and the Nigerian Seafarers Development Program (NSDP).
Currently,the Agency has continued its training programme for seafarers with over 2,600 Nigerian seafarers trained in various credible .maritime institutions like UK, Egypt, Philippine, Malaysia, etc.
Recently, the Agency secured the placement of over 400 cadets onboard ships for the mandatory SEA-TIME training for the global relevance of these cadets and also long term training abroad to build internal capacities in various aspects of some of its staff at the prestigious World Maritime University.
In Capacity Development, NIMASA has also contributed over the past few years in procuring the 5th largest modular floating dockyard in Africa to reduce the cost of ship repairs and maintenance.
The achievement comes under a unique fund called Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF), designed to provide financial assistance to Nigerian operators in domestic coastal shipping to own vessels and enhance their competitiveness.
However, the Agency response in COVID-19 and CSR has recognized from outset, the significant impact of the Coronation Virus (COVID-19) Pandemic on the Transport Sector in particular and the Global socio-economic activities in general.
The Agency major intervention in ensuring the continued flow of trade was the declaration of Seafarers as KEY WORKERS to facilitate vital crew changes and excuse duty.
Nigeria was among the first Maritime Nation to declare such and was commenced by the IMO.
A cash donation of thirty million (#30,000,000.00) was giving to the federal Government Committee on COVID-19 intervention and twenty million (#20,000,000.00) cash donation to the Lagos State COVID-19 intervention Task Force and the development of the Agency’s fire brigade trucks to fumigate Apapa and its environment.
In maritime safety measures, the Agency has employed the Flag State Implementation (FSO) which causes vessels to be inspected and surveyed in accordance with the safety requirements of the MSA of 2007. In relation, the number of vessels surveyed for the flag registration relative to 2020 in 2021 is 488 which represents 43.6% increase over 2020 figure with 276 vessels surveyed. They also boarded a total of 673 vessels in 2021 which is 24.2% higher than that of 2020 which is 510 for the port state implementation duty.
The record also shows that a lot of officers and ratings were trained over the past two years with a total of 829 examinations conducted for the officers having 264 certificated officers and 565 officers failing the exams in 2021 while the figures of 2020 shows that 610 examinations took place and 251 certificated and 359 officers failed. The figure for the ratings trained for 2021 is 1,251 examinations with 926 certificated after passing the exams while 325 failed, this is against the figure for 2020 reading 1,327 trained, having 990 passing and certificated while 337 failed.
There is also the online seafarers Certificate of Competency verification platform that was reactivated and this has reduced the forgery of Nigerian Certificates and also enhanced the employability of seafarers. The enforcement of safety regulations on barges and tug boats as well as the ISO9001 quality assurance certification, the revival of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety (GMDSS) equipment and others have all been achieved.
In order to promote the Maritime Pollution Prevention and Control, NIMASA has created awareness, established a fuel bunker supply register, accredited laboratories for the testing of bunker oil, built capacity on emission reduction and the establishment of the Compliance monitoring and Enforcement Team.
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has achieved a whole lot within the period of two years and is still doing more in terms of playing its core role for safety in Nigeria’s maritime areas, as this is one of the key role of the Agency and these equally portrays him as one of the best of all the past DG’s the Agency ever had.
Dr. Jamoh’s administration has performed extremely well especially in the areas of touching lives, and almost all areas in the sector, strengthening of maritime safety and security enforcement mechanism, engaging shareholders towards harnessing the potentials of a Blue Economy.
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