Abuja MoU Kicks Off Safety of Navigation Campaign

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The maritime authorities of the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control for West and Central African regions (Abuja MoU) have kicked off what it called “Concentrated Inspection Campaign (CIC) on Safety of Navigation in its areas of jurisdiction.

Abuja MoU was signed by maritime authorities in the West and Central African regions on October 22, 1999. It presently has 16 full members with a secretariat provided by the Nigerian Ministry of Transportation in Lagos, Nigeria.

One of the cardinal functions of the Abuja MoU is carrying out port state control (PSC) activities in member states.

The PSC is a check on visiting foreign ships to verify their compliance with international rules on safety, pollution prevention and seafarers living and working conditions. It is a means of enforcing compliance in cases where the owner and flag State have failed in their responsibility to implement or ensure compliance. The port state can require defects to be put right and detain the ship for this purpose if necessary. It is therefore a port state’s defence against visiting substandard vessels.

The Abuja MoU which has the pioneer Director General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mrs. Mfon Ekong Usoro as its Secretary General said the aim of the CIC was to check compliance with the applicable requirements of the safety of life at sea (SOLAS) convention, one of the key instruments of the global maritime watchdog, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

Others are checking the overall status of vessels navigation safety, as well as the competency of crew involved in navigation operations.

Expected to last three months, the campaign which kicked off at the weekend would end on November 30, 2017.

“A ship will only be subject to one inspection in the region under this CIC during the period of the campaign”, it said.

Giving an insight into the factors behind the campaign, Abuja MoU in a statement made available to THISDAY said: “Navigation equipment has always been major inspection items for port state control (PSC) inspections. The regulations for navigation equipment have undergone frequent changes in compliance with a series of amendments to SOLAS Chapter V (safety of navigation). Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) have assisted watch keepers to maintain navigation safety and reduce the navigational workload since its application. Deficiencies relating to navigation equipment constitute a major proportion of the total deficiencies”.

According to the statement, Port State Control Officers (PSCOs) will use a list of 12 questions to assure that navigation equipment carried on board complies with the relevant statutory certificates, the master and navigation officers are qualified and familiar with operation of bridge equipment, especially ECDIS, and that navigation equipment is properly maintained and functioning.

It explained that if deficiencies are found, actions by the port state may vary from recording a deficiency and instructing the master to rectify it within a certain period of time to detaining the ship until the serious deficiencies have been rectified.

The organisation warned that in the case of detention, the data will be published in the non-performing ships section of its website.

Apparently putting member states on notice that its findings would not end up within its doorpost, it revealed that the results of the campaign would be analysed and findings would be presented to the Abuja MoU Port State Control Committee for submission to the maritime watchdog, the IMO headquarters, London.