By Tola Adenubi
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) was established by an Act of Parliament (The NIMASA Act 2007) with two cardinal objectives: to regulate and promote maritime safety, security, marine pollution and maritime labour; and to promote the development of indigenous commercial shipping in international and coastal shipping trade.
The agency derives its mandate from four Acts of the National Assembly. These are NIMASA Act, 2007; Cabotage Act, 2003; Merchant Shipping Act, 2007 and SPOMO Act, 2019.
NIMASA envisions to be the leading maritime administration in Africa advancing Nigeria’s global maritime goals and to achieve and sustain safe, secure shipping, cleaner oceans and enhanced maritime capacity in line with global best practices towards Nigeria’s economic development.
Its core values are commitment, accountability, professionalism, integrity, teamwork, excellence, leadership and discipline.
Maritime security S1
Security of the maritime domain is very critical to the day-to-day operation of the sector. Security helps to boost investors’ confidence, hence, the following key accomplishments under the current dispensation: signing into law of the SPOMO Act by President Muhammadu Buhari; the launch of the Deep Blue Project; significant reduction in piracy and kidnappings; arrests and successful prosecution of criminals; leadership of regional maritime collaboration forum to tackle insecurity and Nigeria’s removal from IMB’s red list
Aim of the Deep Blue Project
The aim of the project is to establish a sustainable architecture for improved maritime safety and security through increased monitoring and compliance enforcement within Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), with a view to effectively tackling the challenges of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
Deep Blue Project Assets Breakdown
Classified into three with over 254 personnel drawn from military and paramilitary organisations. These are; marine, land and air assets.
Marine Assets are Special Mission Vessels – two (DB Abuja and DB Lagos), Fast Intervention Boats –17.
Air Assets include Special Mission Helicopters – three, Special Mission Aircrafts – two and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
Land Assets include Armored Vehicles – 17.
Facilities: Command, Control, Computer, Communication and Intelligence (C4i) Centre, Training Facilities (Shooting Range, C4i Training Centre, etc.). Training; various training for all personnel in the deep blue project on the assets and facilities.
Interoperability of deep blue assets
Effective implementation of the Deep Blue Project contributing to reduction in the piracy cases with only one piracy case as at May 2022, six cases in 2021 from 35 cases in 2020 and in 2019, respectively
Maritime safety S2
The agency observed that shipping is critical to global trade, yet it is the most vulnerable in terms of safety. This explains the reason the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention to ensure the safety of those involved.
Consequently, empowered by enabling legislations, NIMASA takes this as a critical aspect of its job to ensure safety of ships and those on board through proper enforcement of maritime safety conventions.
Shipping development S3
The critical aspect of shipping development encompasses fleet expansion, ship building and ship repairs. Shipping is responsible for over 90 percent of international transportation of goods that sustain the global supply chain, which is a significant component of the global economy, enhancing import and exports of goods and services.
NIMASA is poised to advance shipping by ensuring a conducive environment for commercial shipping and encouraging more indigenous participation in the global shipping trade.
NSDP breakdown as at October 2021
The making of Nigeria’s blue economy strategy document
The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, will chair the expanded committee on the blue economy strategy development and its implementation task team.
The Federal Ministry of Transportation under the leadership of the Minister for Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi
Federal Ministry of Transportation as the secretariat
Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF): Status of delivery
Presidential approval granted for disbursement; primary lending institutions appointed; disbursement likely second quarter 2023.
The Federal Executive Council, at the end of the last quarter of 2021, approved the wreck removals from Badagry axis up to the Tincan Island project has gone very far.
Again, in the first quarter of 2022, the Federal Executive Council approved the removal of the entire wrecks also in the other zones of Nigeria, comprising western zone with headquarters in Lagos, eastern zone headquarters in Port Harcourt and then central Zone headquarters in Warri. All these projects have achieved major milestones.
The agency engaged the Nigerian Navy Naval Dockyard in Lagos to repair its operational vessels, Millennia 1 and Millennium 2. Today both vessels and five others are almost ready for deployment for enforcement purposes. This will also enhance the agency’s search and rescue operation, port and flag state administration, amongst others.
In order to attend to the emergencies that may occur after a search and rescue operation, the agency has built two brand new search and base clinics of international standard at Azare Crescent, Apapa and Kirikiri, which it hopes to commission soon.
The hospital is not for NIMASA or Nigeria, but the original regional states, NIMASA is in charge of nine countries in terms of search and rescue. The hospital is of high international standard, and hopes to treat all calibres of patients locally, and internationally, with the state-of-the-art equipment the facility will possess, when completed.
In the area of flag and port state administration, at the inception of the administration, there was no single vessel for enforcement. Today, the agency has built seven brand new bullet proof boats and expects them to have completed the building. They are being built in Spain and there are high hopes that the agency will receive and commission the vessel before the end of March.
As soon as the vessels are commissioned, there will be enhanced enforcement performance and the agency plans to divide the use of the vessels, not only in Lagos, but also to other zones of the agency. All these will cater for the issue of safety.
Before 2019, NIMASA didn’t have a separate law that tried offenders and criminals that were arrested and those involved in piracy and kidnapping.
Therefore, the agency set out to get this formal Act, Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Related Offences (SPOMO) Act signed by President Buhari in June 2019. As of today, the agency has secured convictions under this Act. This has also served as a deterrent to would-be criminals.
To further deter these criminalities on the waterways and make youths gainfully employed, the agency engaged the Marine Litter Marshals Usually.
In the area of education, the agency introduced the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP). The NSDP is a capacity development programme.
In order to ensure that the agency’s training institution in Nigeria is not left out, it improved its interface with the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron. The agency’s statutory funding of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria in Oron has been on point since 2020.
The academy boasts of simulators among other state-of-the-art facilities, and the funding by NIMASA has been unhindered. This is in addition to other private maritime institutions, like Charkins, which are also coming up with a lot of accreditation for diplomas and other short-term certificates, done locally in order to save foreign exchange.
In addition to this initiative, the agency created skill acquisition centres across the six geopolitical zones; Lagos for the South-West, Anambra for the South-East, Bayelsa for South-South, Maiduguri, Borno State for the North-East, Kaduna for the North-West and Kwara for North Central.
These skill acquisition centres have the capacity of training younger Nigerians on different aspects of professionalism. This is to help trim the number of criminality in the agency’s territorial waters. Records therefore show that from the third quarter of 2021 until date, the agency has not recorded a single attack in its territorial water.
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