Dele Ogbodo in Abuja
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi on Monday said the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), a specialised agency of United Nations,, agency is being drafted to audit the maritime sector to ensure its compliance with global safety, security and protection of the shipping industry and marine standard.
The minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr. Sabiu Zakari,who received the auditors in Abuja on the occasion of the International Maritime Organisation Member State Audit Scheme, noted that the audit of the country’s maritime industry by the IMO was the first ever audit exercise to be done in Nigeria.
The IMO audit team were led to Nigeria by three professionals from different countries including Capt. Cahit Yalcin, Mr. Hakon Storhaug, and Mr. Wei Song.
Amaechi noted that the audit of the country’s maritime industry by the IMO was the first ever audit exercise to be done in Nigeria.
According to him, Nigeria is a member state of the IMO, which is a specialised United Nations agency responsible for ensuring safety and security of shipping as well as the protection of the marine environment.
The minister said: “The main objective of the IMSAS is to promote consistent and effective implementation of the six applicable IMO instruments as well as assisting member states to improve their capabilities in the enforcement of the instruments to enhance their overall performance in complying with the IMO conventions.
“The six IMO mandatory instruments which are to be audited in this exercise in Nigeria beginning from today, June 6 to June 13, 2016 are as follows: safety of life at sea, prevention of pollution from ships, standards of training certification and watch keeping for sea farers convention, load lines convention, tonnage measurement of ships convention, and regulations for preventing collisions at sea.”
The minister, however, noted that the aim of the audit was not to witch hunt member states, but a mechanism for determining the extent to which members comply with the enforcement of the six applicable IMO instruments.
He said: “Since the commencement of the audit exercise in 2006, a number of member states have been audited and their audit reports issued on the areas where they have done well with regards to the implementation and enforcement of applicable IMO instruments as well as the areas of weakness which are to be improved upon.”
The minister stated that during his maiden meeting at the ministry, he was reminded of the need to shift forward the IMO audit of Nigeria in order to allow for more time to prepare for the IMSAS audit scheme.
“I objected to the request given that the notification from the IMO with respect to the audit had long been given and particularly that the audit is to encourage member states to maintain consistency in the areas they are having challenges,” the minister said.
In hisremark, the Director-General, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dakuku Peterside, explained that there were sanctions against countries and maritime agencies who default in terms of upholding the laid down rules of engagement.
He said: “If there are extreme flaws, there are sanctions against such for every maritime authority and maritime nation. Some of these sanctions include restrictions on the ports your vessels can call, as well as vessels calling at your ports. There are several forms of punitive measures that can be taken in extreme cases, but I doubt if Nigeria will get to this point.”