EromoseleAbiodun posits that the pledge by the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside to fully implement the ISPS code will guaranty safe and secure maritime transport, which is critical to trade and fundamental to the sustainable development of African states
With over 90 per cent of African states’ imports and exports conducted by sea, international trade is critical to many African economies. This is because the population of sub- Saharan Africa is forecast to double by 2050.
Safe and secure maritime transport is therefore, key to successful trade and growth in Africa and fundamental to the sustainable development of African states’ economies.
It therefore becomes necessary to address the long-time challenge of piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea. At the same time, the coastal states of West and Central Africa are facing a range of equally pressing concerns in their maritime domains, all of which-like the challenge of piracy-will benefit from increased capacity to monitor territorial and international waters and to enforce relevant laws both ashore and at sea.
African countries’ share in world trade stands at about three per cent on average, while intra-African trade averages around 10 per cent of Africa’s total trade.
The continent’s share of exports to the world has declined over the years -standing at an average of 2.5 per cent, a net decline from 10 per cent in the 1950s. In addition, African countries attract only 2-3 per cent of global Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and contribute another one per cent to world gross domestic products (GDP).
International shipping in itself also presents a substantial employment opportunity. Today, there are approximately 1.5 million seafarers worldwide and this number is expected to rise in the future. Given that seafarers from African countries are currently under-represented, there is considerable room for growth in this area.
Moreover, ancillary services in ports as well as operational and managerial tasks based on land also provide employment opportunities.
Opportunities also exist in the related industries that supply goods and services to the maritime companies, which together, comprise the entire maritime cluster. However, most of these opportunities have eluded Nigeria over the years as a result of maritime insecurity.
If there is a country where the fear of ports and maritime security is very high, that country is Nigeria. This is because of the volatile nature of the Niger Delta as a result of youth restiveness that resulted in kidnappings and wanton killings. However, Nigeria is not alone. Acts of insecurity, lack of safety consciousness and threats of terrorism have dominated the global maritime landscape in recent years.
But dishonesty and fraud-like tendencies, which have bedevilled activities in the maritime industry in Nigeria, have complicated perceived threats of insecurity in our ports. The cases of Somali pirates have also dominated the global maritime industry in the last few years with European and America shipping companies at the receiving end of terrorists kidnapping ship captains and crew members for ransom.
The need to ensure maritime security did not become topical until September 11, 2001 when the world witnessed the bombing of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York by terrorists, resulting in the death of over 3,000 persons.
Consequently, fear were expressed that if the air can be so vulnerable to terrorist attack, engaging the ports and other maritime facilities on land would be a simple job. It was at this juncture that world leaders decided to tinker with the 1974-1988 convention on Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) to create awareness to maritime nations on the need to put in place certain measures that would shield maritime facilities such as ports from terrorist attacks.
This was what gave birth to the International Ships and Ports Facility Security (ISPS) Code to which every port is to comply with in order to ensure safety of international trade, persons transiting the ports and other critical facilities. The ISPS Code outlined preventive measures against the likelihood of terrorist attacks on ships and ports facilities worldwide. The ISPS Code came into force in 2004.
ISPS Code Objectives
Some of the objectives of the ISPS Code are to: establish an international framework involving co-operation between contracting governments, government agencies, local administrations and the shipping and port industries to detect/assess security threats and take preventive measures against security incidents affecting ships or port facilities used in international trade.
Others are: to establish the respective roles and responsibilities of all these parties concerned, at the national and international level, for ensuring maritime security, ensure the early and efficient collation and exchange of security-related information, provide a methodology for security assessments so as to have in place plans and procedures to react to changing security levels and ensure confidence that adequate and proportionate maritime security measures are in place.
According to the terms put in place by the framers of the ISPA code, the objectives are to be achieved by the designation of appropriate security officers/personnel on each ship, in each port facility and in each shipping company to prepare and to put into effect the security plans that will be approved for each ship and port facility.
However, the Code does not indicate specific measures that each port and ship must take to ensure the safety of her facilities against terrorism because of the many different types and sizes of these facilities. Instead it outlined, “a standardised consistent framework for evaluating risk, enabling governments to offset changes in threat with changes in vulnerability for ships and port facilities.”
For ships, the framework includes requirements for ship security plans, security officers, company security officers and certain onboard equipment.
For port facilities, the requirements include port facility security plans, port facility security officers and security equipment.
In addition, the requirements for ships and for port facilities include monitoring and controlling access, monitoring the activities of people and cargo and ensuring that security communications are readily available. Since 2004 when the ISPS Code came into operation, Nigeria has made unsatisfactory efforts to comply with the security code.
Meanwhile, upon being appointed the Designated Authority (DA) for the implementation of the ISPS Code in Nigeria, the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) stated that the effective implementation of the code in Nigerian ports would involve a continuous year- to- year exercise with committees mandated to periodically inspect port facilities (PF), in order to ensure that required standards are achieved and maintained. NIMASA has focused not only on PF listed in the United States Coast Guard (USCG) report but on the generality of PFs in the nation’s maritime domain which were placed on the watch over a period of time.
Implementation and Enforcement
The appointment of Dr. Dakuku Peterside as the Director General of NIMASA has in no small measure reinforced the action to ensure that the ISPS code is fully implemented.
A fortnight ago, the NIMASA boss restated his promise to ensure the full implementation and enforcement of the International Ships and Ports Facility Security (ISPS) code in the nation’s ports.
He stated this at the opening ceremony of a five-day training programme facilitated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in conjunction with NIMASA on ISPS code compliance in Lagos.
Peterside observed that skilled, efficient and talented workers are critical to the growth of the maritime sectorr assuring NIMASA will continually equip its staff with new knowledge, skills and technologies necessary to ensure compliance with the ISPS Code.
According to him, “Our people and values are hallmarks of a good and strong organisation. Recognising that our greatest asset is our people, the leadership of the maritime industry in Nigeria, is committed to building a skilled, talented and effective workforce. That is why we take advantage of every training programme to equip our people and prepare them for new challenges that come up daily in the course of carrying out their assignments.”
He also disclosed that in pursuit of its vision to reposition the maritime industry, NIMASA has developed an in-house training initiative to continuously update the skills of its staff and keep them in tune with various developments in the industry.
While assuring the participants that the training will be continuous, Peterside said that the agency as a DA for the implementation of ISPS Code, will work with local and International stakeholders to develop quality industry specific training for its staff, to enhance their performance and productivity in the line of duty.
He thanked the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi for showing rare leadership in the maritime industry.
“Things are turning around in the maritime industry because we have a Minister who understands that the industry offers Nigeria a great opportunity to leapfrog our economy”, he stated.
Peterside highlighted his management’s determination to make the agency a world class, high performance organisation.
He said this during the Management Performance Review (MPR) of the agency in Lagos. He said the agency’s repositioning initiative is all encompassing and when concluded would be beneficial to the entire maritime sector.
The NIMASA boss also said that the MPR was an avenue to assess the progress being made by the Agency viz-a-viz its reform, restructuring and repositioning drive to ensure that the Agency’s mandate is achieved.
According to the DG, “There is no organisation that can grow without innovation and the MPR affords us a rare opportunity to assess our journey thus far. It is a rare privilege to match set goals with results, to assess ourselves on how far we have gone in this journey.
“When I joined you in NIMASA we sat down and agreed to build a world class high performance organisation. In subscribing to that, we set out to craft a Medium Term Strategic plan which would be our roadmap. We have already started the critical elements of the things we agreed that are necessary to build a world class maritime organisation. One is the automation of our processes and to fast track this, we set up a special taskforce. It is our vision that by October, NIMASA would be fully automated.”
He noted that the dream of the Agency is to be recognised as the foremost maritime regulatory Agency in Africa that is the pride of the continent.
Peterside, who said that the agency has the duty to facilitate maritime business not to stifle it also assured stakeholders that NIMASA will create an enabling environment that would satisfy the yearnings of all.
“The bigger picture is to build a world class, high performance organisation that would satisfy the interest and yearnings of our clients as well as serve the interest of the country that set us up. We are indeed facilitators of maritime business, therefore we will not stifle it” he stated.
NIMASA Shuts Jetties, Port Facilities
In a bid to let stakeholders know that it was serious about its resolve to fully implement the ISPS code, NIMASA recently shut three jetties and port facilities for non-compliance with the provisions of the ISPS.
NIMASA in a statement said the decision was pursuant to its mandate as the DA for the implementation Code in Nigeria. The facilities are Heyden Petroleum Jetty Ijora Lagos; Waziri Jetty, Dockyard Road ApapaLagos and Starz Marine Shipyard Limited Onne in Rivers State. These facilities, the agency stated, have persistently failed to comply with the ISPS code necessitating their closure in order to forestall a situation where security breaches in such facilities will negatively impact the compliant ones.
These closures, it added, are in exercise of the agency’s powers in line with provisions of Part VIII of the ISPS Code Implementation Regulations 2014 under which the facilities were adjudged to be non-compliant despite repeated warnings to remedy the deficiencies.
NIMASA has consistently stated its commitment to the enforcement of full compliance with the ISPS Code especially in the face of growing terrorists’ activities globally.
While hosting a pre-assessment team from the United States Coast Guard (USCG) recently, Peterside expressed the determination of the agency to enforce the code saying that, “ultimately all of us are working for a common purpose, a safer world through safety and security of the maritime sub sector. If we fix our different corners of the earth, the whole world will be safer for everybody. And so no effort should be spared in trying to guarantee safety and security.”
“All shut facilities are to remain closed until the managers of such facilities correct the identified deficiencies in line with the dictates of the Code as the Agency aims to achieve 100 per cent compliance with the cooperation of all stakeholders. This exercise is a continuous one,” it stated.
IMO rates Nigeria high on compliance
Meanwhile, NIMASA’s resolve has started yielding result with stakeholders now making effort to ensure they fully comply. In recognition of this, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has applauded the country for its efforts at ensuring full compliance.
The Imo commendation is coming two years after the United States government gave Nigeria an ultimatum to put its port security in order, or face sanction.
The IMO had late last year rated Nigeria high on compliance with ISPS code.
IMO’s Lead Consultant, Mr. Brian Cranmer, speaking in Lagos at the opening of a five-day ‘train-the-trainer’s programme said the efforts of the NIMASA in ensuring compliance with the code is quite commendable.
He said his conclusion is based on his evaluation of the programmes the management of the agency has so far put in place for the implementation of ISPS code in Nigeria.
Reinforcing the need for a high level of security consciousness at the ports, Cranmer said that the restriction of movement in and out of the ports is a step in the right direction.
“From what I have seen and what I am hearing, NIMASA has a very good programme in place; they are all trying hard, carrying out inspections. I have been with them when they carry out these inspections and they are as good as any other country that is implementing the ISPS Code. The port security is okay, because now, they have systems in place; you cannot just get into the ports unless you have an identification card.
“The ports that I have seen, meets the requirements fully, and Nigeria is coming on in leaps and bounds and I think with NIMASA and the compliance department, the inspections are in the right direction,” he stated.
The IMO lead consultant said the effort of the agency is quite commendable as many countries in Africa and Europe still find it difficult to meet the demands of the code.
He, however, warned against the incessant movement of staff which could hamper steady progress especially after some people have been trained in some technical areas.
“There is usually a lot of movement of staff, but you need to keep the staff you have got. The staff you have employed and trained should be technically employed and technically trained and you keep them, because they are your assets. Once you have trained staff, they understand how to carry out audits, inspections, how to do the enforcement programme, then you will find the rest of the programme becomes easy,” Cranmer said.
On his part, Peterside said the training programme was , “a demonstration of IMO’s commitment to building competence among member States in the implementation of key maritime conventions.”
Peterside said the training is a direct outcome of the IMO Need Assessment conducted between January 25 and 29, 2016, during which a high standard of implementation of the ISPS Code was observed and commended.
He said that to sustain the positive trajectory of the process, the IMO recommended additional training for key NIMASA personnel and stakeholders in the implementation of the provisions of the code.\
According to the NIMASA boss, the training would avail participants of a good insight of the DA’s implementation process and a forum for deliberation on contemporary issues related to ensuring compliance by port facilities.
He said it will also provide an invaluable networking opportunity for government stakeholders, the importance of which aligns with the effort to build a critical mass of support for the process.
Head of the ISPS Unit in NIMASA, Mr. Green Egbodi, an Assistant Director in the agency, said no fewer than 30 participants were undergoing the training.
He disclosed that the participants were ISPS officers from NIMASA, the Nigerian Ports Authority, the National Inland Waterways Authority, and staff of the Ministry of Transportation.
Egbodi said that the training was necessitated by findings from a Needs Assessment done earlier in January by the IMO, after it had attested to the country’s compliance with the Code.
In his words: “When they carried out the Need Assessment this year, they saw some gaps that should be filled, and the whole essence is to make us close the gaps and make improvements. This ‘train-the-trainer’ training is to train some of us and we can now escalate the training further to other agencies and other port facility users in the shipping industry, to make the ports safe.”
US Coast Guard Too
Aside the IMO, the United States Coast Guard has also commended NIMASA stressing that the agency is on the right path to the successful implementation of the ISPS code in Nigeria.
At a meeting with members of the ISPS Code Implementation Committee in Nigeria in Lagos during a visit to NIMASA, the leader of the US Coast Guard team to Nigeria, Mr. Tivo Romero praised the agency for its efforts at ensuring the implementation of the ISPS code.
Romero disclosed that his team visited six port facilities in the country during their two-week visit to Nigeria adding that they have noticed tremendous improvement since the last visit to the country.
Romero, who commended NIMASA for the outreach to facility operators, added that, “I must commend the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency for its efforts so far. However, the United States Coast Guard will provide required technical assistance to ensure that infrastructural and legal instruments needed for effective implementation of the ISPS Code in Nigeria are put in place. I urge you all to see this project as a voyage which we have all embarked on, that must be concluded.”
Romero dismissed media reports that claimed that the United States Government would embargo vessels from visiting Nigerian ports noting that the US government is fully behind Nigeria as a strong business partner that requires desired partnership, a reason for which both countries would always continue to work together and to ensure adequate security in the maritime sector.
“The ISPS Code involved a continuous year to year inspection of Port Facilities in order to meet up with the required standard, as against an ad-hoc fire brigade exercise,” he said.
Engaging the Navy
To further enhance the security of Nigerian water ways and the optimum exploration of the nation’s marine resources, Peterside also promised to continue to partner with the Nigerian Navy.
Peterside stated this when Naval Cadets of the 66 Regular Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) visited the agency on a study visit.
He assured the cadets that the symbiotic relationship that exists between NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy is inseparable because of the functions of both agencies saying their visit to NIMASA is auspicious as they will always have reason to interact with the Maritime Administration upon commissioning.
Peterside praised the gallantry and bravery of Officers and Ratings of the Nigerian Navy noting that the country’s naval force is one of the best in the world for which he has eternal pride.
While appreciating the young Cadets for choosing to serve and protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria, Peterside said, “you have chosen a very noble course as brave men and women, only the brave will chose to enlist in our military. As courageous men and women, you have offered to make all forms of sacrifices first for the good of our country and for all of us your country men and women so that we can move about freely; most importantly so that the territorial integrity of our nation will be protected.”
Also, while receiving the members of the National Association of Stevedoring Companies led by the President, Mr. Bolaji Sunmola , Peterside said the NIMASA is capable of carrying out its regulatory functions and will not abdicate its mandate to anybody.
He warned that NIMASA will not abdicate its regulatory responsibility as they concern the operations of stevedoring companies and how they relate with terminal and jetty operators saying that they do not have the powers to eject stevedoring companies approved by the government to operate in their facilities.
He emphasised that, “it is NIMASA’s responsibility to oversight Stevedoring functions in our ports, terminals and jetties and we will not abdicate that function to anybody. In the exercise of this function, we will interface with terminal operators and the National Association of Stevedoring Companies to make sure maritime operations are not hampered.”
Peterside also noted that the Agency understands the challenges faced by Stevedoring Companies and the terminal operators noting that NIMASA will consult further with all parties to ensure that there is an amicable resolution of the issues.
The NIMASA boss highlighted the importance of Stevedoring companies to include facilitating economic growth, ensuring industrial harmony and also serving as a security shield in the ports.
He assured the delegation of the agency’s commitment to develop human capacity saying that “the management of NIMASA has approved a comprehensive stevedoring guideline sensitization which would soon commence”.
The President of the National Association of Stevedoring Companies, Sunmola called on NIMASA to come to their rescue in respect of their negotiations with terminal operators as it has become a norm for Jetties and offshore/onshore operators to refuse the federal government appointed stevedoring contractors to operate in their premises.
Sunmola, who pointed out that the appointment of stevedoring companies to these facilities was a deliberate attempt by the federal government to avoid security breaches, also appealed to the agency to activate the 2014 NIMASA Stevedoring Regulations which he thinks will go a long way in resolving the issues with the terminal operators.