…Says Multilateral Cooperation Key to Vessel Safety

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Dakuku Peterside

The Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has stated that the agency created operational conditions that have prompted a turnaround in prospects for maritime safety and successful utilisation of the country’s enormous marine resources.

Peterside stated this while delivering a lecture on “Maritime Safety and Shipping Development in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects,”at the National Defence College in Abuja.

He said NIMASA’s total spectrum maritime security strategy had engendered significant improvement in maritime safety and security in the country.

The other measures adopted by the agency to better the state of safety and security in the marine environment, he said include acquisition and utilisation of marine technology infrastructure (maritime domain awareness); improved compliance monitoring and enforcement activities; training/re-training; and conscious efforts to ensure adequate funding for the maritime sector.

“We have moved from enforcement to education and enlightenment, to get operators to understand why they should comply with the rules and the risks in not complying, as well as help them to comply, ” he said
Speaking further at the event, which had participation from several African countries, Peterside called for multilateral cooperation, especially among African countries, to ensure vessel safety and enhance opportunities for the exploitation of marine resources, saying maritime security is a global problem.

“Shipping, perhaps, is the most globalised of all great industries in the world. Approximately 90 per cent of world trade is transported by ships. Such as the case of Nigeria, this figure is close to 95 per cen. There are over 50,000 merchant ships trading internationally today, manned by more than a million seafarers and carrying every kind of cargo. Thus, the safety of vessels is critical to the global economy,” he stated.

The NIMASA boss said maritime safety had moved from the approach of tending to react to marine incidents only after their occurrence to a proactive regime entailing the prior initiation of solutions based on risk analysis.
He said research had shown that most maritime accidents in Nigeria resulted from human factors, stressing that industry actors have a greater role to play in the new approach to maritime safety, as they have a better control over the human elements. He said NIMASA was tackling the human factors that could imperil shipping in the country through its improved enforcement and monitoring mechanisms.

Underscoring the role of the human factor in the efforts to ensure safety of vessels, Peterside said a study of marine accidents/incidents in Nigeria between 2016 and 2018 showed that 38 per cent resulted from collision (poor vessel traffic) – human error; 19 per cent resulted from fire explosion; 12 per cent was due to capsize; grounding and sinking accounted for eight per cent each; and oil spill caused 15 per cent.

He identified the challenges associated with maritime safety and shipping development in Nigeria to include poor compliance with regulations, insufficient manning, professional competence issues, lack of capital, piracy, inadequate technological infrastructure, and pollution.

“NIMASA has continuously dealt with safety challenges in the context of operations, management, surveying, ship registration, and the role of administration. Since international maritime safety has moved from a largely prescriptive and reactive safety scheme to a risk-based proactive regime, responsibility for safety is being placed on those in the industry to set out and create new perspectives on risk-based decision making. Hence, the way forward would be to adopt a Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) framework for maritime safety management,” Peterside stated.