Abuja MoU: Why We are Embarking on Concentrated Inspection Campaign

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The Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control for West and Central African regions otherwise called Abuja MoU have given an insight into why it kicked off what it called a “Concentrated Inspection Campaign (CIC)” on Safety of Navigation.

The secretariat of the organisation which is hosted by Nigeria said it was embarking on the CIC owing to its belief that members port state inspection have matured to the level where it can graduate to a higher level of inspection as it is obtainable in other regional MoUs.

According to 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, whereas the regular port state inspection is performed by each state acting alone but all submitting reports to the secretariat or directly to the automated information system, the CIC is port state inspection performed by a group of participating states or MoUs within a specified time frame.

The organisation in a statement obtained by THISDAY stated that the CIC was designed to focus on specific areas where high levels of deficiencies have been recorded by Port State Control Officers (PSCOs) in the region or where new convention requirements have recently entered into force.

Continuing, the organisation which came into being with the signing of the MoU on October 22, 1999 said: “CIC requires that during a regular port state control inspection, the campaign subject matter/areas’ maintenance records and other applicable documentation are examined in more detail for compliance with the relevant international instruments for the period of the campaign. The campaign is usually conducted within a specified period of three months with all participating member states starting and ending the campaign at the same time”.

In order to maximise its benefits, the Abuja MoU encourages member states to participate effectively and efficiently in the CIC.

It stated that sub-standard ships are identified during the CIC and made to take corrective actions prior to clearance to proceed on the voyage thereby reducing risks to safety, damage to the marine environment, life and property.

“It is imperative for a successful CIC that participating member states achieve a high level of uniformity and harmonisation in inspection procedures and reporting. To achieve that, Administrations in all 22 States in Abuja MoU region should use the harmonised procedures contained in Abuja MoU Port State Control Officers’ Manual and the harmonized inspection report Forms. If your Administration has not complied, please do so as any weak link is often exploited by non-compliant vessels. Member States must not be complacent and must continue to strive to ensure that the Abuja MoU region rids itself of sub-standard ships”, it added.

Giving further insight into the campaign which started on September 1, 2017, it said the CIC is coordinated by the secretariat in conjunction with member states.

“The secretariat produces a uniform questionnaire listing the number of items for inspection during the CIC period by port state inspectors. PSCOs will use the list of selected items to verify critical areas of the shipboard systems, some of which are related to documentation, operations, structure, equipment and crew familiarisation. Where deficiencies are found, PSCOs are expected to take inspection actions listed in the Action Taken section of our harmonized inspection report Form A. The results of the campaign are collated and entered into the information system where the data are analysed and reports generated. The outcome and analysis of the CIC reports will then be presented to the Abuja MoU Intersessional Management Working Group (ISMWG), Port State Control Committee and the Bureau prior to submission to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).”

The execution of the CIC by the Abuja MoU is toeing what other similar organisation are already doing. These include the Paris MoU, Black Sea MoU and Tokyo MoU. It is on record that these two organisations have carried out what they called “Joint Concentrated Inspection Campaigns” in their areas of jurisdiction.