From seven percent compliance rate in 2013, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has been able to achieve 83 percent compliance level in the implementation of International Ships and Ports Security Code compliance. Babalola Yusuf x-rays the journey so far.
For some months now, good news has not been coming from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). What has dominated the airwaves about the agency was the multi-billion naira scam involving the immediate-past Director-General of the agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, some members of staff and few maritime stakeholders.
So, when the Acting Director-General of NIMASA, Haruna Jauro while receiving the IMO Needs Assessment Team at the Headquarters of the Agency said the agency has surpassed the benchmark set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for the actual compliance level of the International Ships and Ports Facility Security (ISPS) Code, then stakeholders heaved a sigh of relief that at last, something good to cheer comes out of the agency.
Why ISPS Code was introduced
In reaction to the World Trade Center, New York bombing on September 11, 2001 and the bombing of the French oil tanker Limburger in October 2002, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in December 2002 amended its Safety of Life at Sea (“SOLAS”) Convention (1974/1988) by enacting the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (the “ISPS Code” or the “Code”) which prescribes the responsibilities of governments, shipping companies, shipboard personnel, and port/facility personnel to detect security threats and take preventive measures against security incidents affecting ships or port facilities used in international trade.
Maritime Security aims to provide a standardised, consistent framework for evaluating risk, enabling Governments to offset changes in threat with changes in vulnerability for ships and port facilities through the determination of appropriate security levels and corresponding security measures.
It is noted that measures to enhance maritime security call for the establishment of appropriate operational measures and procedures to prevent unauthorised access, to prevent the introduction of unauthorised weapons, incendiary devices or explosives, to provide means of raising an alarm, to ensure efficient and effective communications and to enhance awareness and vigilance.
These measures have a protective character and have been developed for the purpose of preventing the occurrence of a security incident.
Suppression, containment and control of a situation in case of breach of security or of a security incident, has been and remains a matter for the police and the security services of each state.
Nigerian ports before NIMASA takes control of ISPS
Before NIMASA takes full control of the implementation of ISPS code, there were less than 10 port facilities that had effective anti-terrorism measures in place. Then, a committee, Presidential Committee on Maritime Safety and Security (PCOMSS) was in charge of the implementation and Nigerian ports were almost slammed with Conditions of Entry (COE) before NIMASA was appointed new Destinations Authority (DA) from where they raised the compliance level of Nigerian ports from 7percent to about to over 70percent.
However, since the government of President Goodluck Jonathan appointed the agency as the DA for the implementation of the ISPS Code, the compliance level rose from 7 percent to 83 percent within two years.
The compliance level eliminated wharf rats, hawking and even touting within the ports’ vicinity, and unlike in the past; importers can import goods and be sure that the goods will arrive intact without the usual dreadful experience.
Axing non-compliant terminals & Jetties
NIMASA last November shut Obat Oil and Petroleum Limited Jetty at Ibafon, Apapa, Lagos, for non-compliance with provisions of the code.
The facility was adjudged non-compliant despite repeated warnings and extension of time graciously granted its management over the past year.
The NIMASA management said it shut the port facility because it persistently failed to comply with the ISPS Code so as to forestall a situation where security breaches in such facilities will negatively impact on the compliant ones.
Also in December 2015, the agency shut the Magcobar Manufacturing Limited jetty at Reclamation Road Port Harcourt and Shoreline Logistics Limited at Old NPA Port, Marina Road Calabar.
And, in its bid to ensure total compliance with the provisions of the code, the agency instituted stringent measures against defaulting facilities, having worked hard to attain its present position of over 80% compliance with the nation’s 129 ships and ports facilities.
IMO commends NIMASA on implementation
Just recently, Ms. Gisela Vieira, the leader of the IMO Needs Assessment Team commended the Management of NIMASA for the commitment and zeal shown towards ensuring the effective implementation of the ISPS code.
According to her, the audit is not mainly aimed at identifying the faults but specially meant to set an agenda on how to better the current implementation status.
Though, NIMASA has surpassed the benchmark set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for the actual compliance level of the International Ships and Ports Facility Security (ISPS) Code, it is worthy to note that it’s not yet uhuru for the Nigeria port system since it has not yet reached 100percent compliance level.
The efforts and the will of NIMASA to ensure that Nigeria’s ports system is safe and secure for the benefit of Nigerians as well as foreign investors in the maritime industry should be sustained. All hands must be on deck to make 100 percent compliance achievable. More non-compliant Jetties and terminals should be shut.