The management of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), on Wednesday assured all stakeholders especially the international community of its resolve to ensure port facility owners/operators comply with International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code.
The United States Coast Guard (USCG) recently gave Nigeria 90-day ultimatum, which expires at the end of this month to improve on its maritime security or risk sanction.
According to the USCG, failure to comply may lead to stoppage of sail of vessels from the United States of America to Nigeria.
Speaking in Lagos, Director-General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, explained that the agency has “taken up the challenge in ensuring that the country does not suffer the embarrassment of such sanctions as contained in the report”.
He explained that an action has been developed and immediately activated to aggressively close the reported gaps.
“This effort included dispatching competent recognized security organisations to conduct security surveys and assessments aimed at identifying and correcting these deficiencies and any other observed vulnerabilities.
“Whilst focusing on these facilities listed in the USCG report, measures are already underway to address the generality of Port Facilities (PFs) in the nation’s maritime domain.
“This action plan has been given a nod by the USCG and it has pledged to support the efforts of the DA (Designated Authority) in ensuring the issues raised are remedied. The DA has outlined its implementation framework in the form of handbook to enable the public understand its agenda with respect to this new implementation regime”, said Akpobolokemi.
Accompanied by Executive Director, Maritime Safety & Shipping Development, Capt Bala Agaba and Deputy Director (Public Relations), Isichei Osamgbi, the NIMASA boss explained that though the agency took over the responsibility about three months ago, “the agency immediately set out to institute a fresh implementation programme as needed.
Giving more insight into what the agency has done to ensure compliance, Akpobolokemi said: “Upon assumption as DA, NIMASA encountered several challenges, one of which was the December 2012 expiration of all Statement of Compliance for Port Facility (SoCPF) by the International Maritime Organization (IMO)”.
He said the management of NIMASA has since approved an ISPS Code implementation committee to help oversee the implementation mandate.
“Aside from key NIMASA personnel who form part of this committee, membership has been drawn from other key government stakeholder agencies such as the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigerian Police, State Security Services (SSS), Customs and Immigrations among others”
According to Akpobolokemi, in order to establish the number, location and nature of operations of all PFs and jetties in the country, “NIMASA has commissioned a stocktaking of the nation’s coastal maritime assets. This audit will help the DA capture and catalogue all port/berthing facilities as well as verify their ISPS Code compliance status.
“All PFs including those mentioned in the US diplomatic note to Nigeria are also currently undergoing security assessments as a step towards preparing security plans that are ISPS Code compliant. The DA has just recently concluded verification inspection Exercise on all shore-based PFs in the country. The report of this VIE will form the basis for re-certification of these PFs in line with ISPS code requirements. PFs deemed non-compliant will not be recertified and in extreme cases, attract added punitive action”.
Information from Guardian was used in this report.