Transport Minister, Idris Umar
Nigeria has continued to expand its presence in the comity of maritime nations as the secretariat of the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control for West and Central African Region (Abuja MoU) has been given a mandate to chair the three-day workshop which took place early this month at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) headquarters, London, United Kingdom.
The workshop was organised by the IMO within the framework of a technical co-operation project (TC 1304-08-2000) and pursuant to the decision by the Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI), at its sixteenth session, for PSC MoU/Agreement Secretaries and IMO Database Managers.
The forum, which attracted participants from several countries, was open to representatives of all members of the organisation to participate as observers.
It was gathered that the purpose of the workshop was meant to make further progress in the IMO’s objective of harmonisation of port state control procedures among the 9 Regional MoUs and one National Port State (United States Coastguard) worldwide.
Each memorandum was required to submit their reports on progress made within the last 2 years. The programme covers issues relating to port state control activities, harmonisation and improvement of port state control, manual for port state control officers, information exchange, technical co-operation programmes and issues related to flag administrations and recognised organisations.
THISDAY checks revealed that this is the first time Nigeria is being formally invited and asked to chair such a workshop by the United Nations specialised agency.
Secretary General of Abuja MoU, Mrs. Mfon Usoro, who confirmed the development, said the formal invitation by IMO was a testimony to the increased interest of the world body in the strides being made by Nigeria since she took over the mantle of leadership at the organisation.
Those who participated at the global maritime workshop were post state control MoUs /Agreements from Mediterranean Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Med MoU); Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control in the Black Sea Region (Bs MoU); Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Paris MoU); Acuerdo De Viña Del Mar (Avdm); and Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Tokyo MoU).
Other participants were the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (IoMoU); Caribbean Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (C MoU); West and Central Africa Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Abuja MoU); and Riyadh Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Riyadh MoU).
There were also observer member states, United Nations entities and some classification societies.
THISDAY had reported that at the 5th IMO workshop held in August 2011, where Mrs. Usoro was the Vice-Chairperson, all the regional MoUs and other participants also attended.
These include Argentina, Marshall Islands, Chile, Russian Federation, Colombia, and Saudi Arabia. Others were Honduras, Turkey, Liberia, United States, Regional Marine Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC), International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), and Equasis.
While Congo is the current Chair of Abuja MoU, Nigeria retains the position of Vice Chair. Similarly, Ghana and Guinea are members of the bureau made up of Ministers of Transport of the four member states.
Among the key milestones attained by Abuja MoU was the development and adoption Abuja MoU Port State Control Officers’ Manual at the 8th PSCC Meeting of Abuja MoU held in October 2012 in Brazzaville, Congo.
The manual, which took effect from January 2013, incorporates portions of the IMO Procedural Guidelines contained in IMO Res A. 1052(27), a pull-out Aide Memoire for PSCOs, action taken upon inspection, ship targeting system and the harmonised coding system maintained by Regional MoUs. The secretariat has developed a training schedule for PSCOs on use of the manual and entry of inspection reports into the automated Abuja MoU Information System.
The organisation has also created a hyperlink on the homepage tagged “Inspection Database” that navigates through the disclaimer page direct to the public interface of AMIS central database.
Similarly, Port State Control Officers and the public can conduct both “ship search” and “inspection search” from the website which can serve as a decision tool in targeting ships for inspections.