Maritime reforms: Nigerian Navy, Maritime stakeholders, others support amendment of NIMASA Act

• Proposed amendment to improve Agency’s efficiency ― Speaker

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, on Tuesday, expressed reiterated the resolve of the 9th Assembly towards improving the regulatory instruments of the Nigerian maritime sector through the amendment of the NIMASA Act 2007 and the Cabotage Act 2003, with a view to align with current realities.

Hon Gbajabiamila gave the assurance while declaring open the two days public hearing by the House Committee on Maritime Safety Education and Administration on the Merchant Shipping Act, Repeal and Enactment Bill 2021, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act repeal & Enactment Bill 2021, Coastal & Inland Cabotage Amendment Bill 2020.

Other stakeholders who spoke in support of the bills are; Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, WISTA, CIOTA Nigerian Welfare Board, and National Association of Master Mariners.

The Speaker who stressed the need for effective reform in the industry averred that: “these Bills seek to reform and reorganise our nation’s maritime transportation industry fundamentally. The overall objective of ensuring that this sector of our national economy operates optimally is more attractive to investors and better suited to meet the needs of the people who rely on the maritime industry in various ways, including as a source of jobs and economic opportunity.

“Over the last 20 years, there have been repeated efforts by the National Assembly to advance legislation to improve the operations of the industry. In fact, these bills under consideration today were first enacted within the lifetime of this republic. These efforts at reform will continue even after these Bills become law.

“They will continue because as Nigeria continues to diversify our economy away from overreliance on income from the sale of fossil fuels, the shipping and maritime transportation industry represents a significant untapped resource, and we have an obligation to advance policies and legislation to unlock the potential in that sector and maximise the potential economic benefits to the Nigerian people.


“I have long believed and expressed that the primary role of government as it relates to private industry is to facilitate the conditions that allow private capital to thrive through investment and innovation. In performing this role, we must be wary of over-regulation.

“We must be careful not to over legislate in ways that become inimical to our objectives of advancing the growth and prosperity of the industry.

Today’s public hearing is an opportunity to hear from industry and ensure that the legislative recommendations we make are informed by the knowledge, expertise and needs of the people who will ultimately have to operate under the statutory mandates imposed by parliament,” Hon. Gbajabiamila said.

On her part, Chairman House Committee on Maritime Safety Education and Administration, Hon. Linda Ikpeazu said the public hearing was to ensure that the decision of the Legislature regarding the Bills are taken from well-informed position premised on submissions from maritime stakeholders from all aspect of the industry.

She said: “It is common knowledge that the maritime sector is a foundation and catalyst to the growth of nations that possess marine endowments. Nigerian, by any standard, is well endowed by ocean coastline, rivers, and rich marine biodiversity.

“Not only are we focused on making the maritime sector a key alternative source of revenue and economic growth to our dwindling oil resources, we are also poised to develop a prosperous blue economy for our nation, akin to similar success in the maritime nation around the world.”

In his submission, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, commended the National Assembly for embarking on the review of the laws governing the maritime sector noting that the new NIMASA bill under consideration will enhance the capacity of the Agency to effectively regulate the Nigerian maritime industry in line with international best practice.

The Minister who was represented by the Director, Legal Service of the Ministry, Paul Oteh, however, expressed reservation about the Agency funding to the Nigerian Maritime University Okerenkoko.

“The Ministry does not support 12% of NIMASA revenue going to the University. The proposal, in our view, also does not recognize the fact that the university, like other public institutions under the supervision of the NUC and the Federal Ministry of Education, is ordinarily entitled to public funds as may be appropriated by the National Assembly on an annual basis.”

On his part, NIMASA Director-General, Dr Bashir Jamoh who was represented by the Executive Director Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Engineer Victor Ochei adopted the position of the Minister as NIMASA position.

The Nigerian Navy, on its own, supported the amendment of the NIMASA Act, urging the National Assembly, to look critically at the security component of the bill to ensure that the relationship between the two agencies is enhanced.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Awwal Gambo, who applauded the initiative, said it will improve NIMASA’s institutional capacity and enhanced Maritime Administration in Nigeria.

Gambo who was represented by, Rear Admiral Solomon Agada, said, “the provision of a separate section on marine casualty and the proposed establishment of a Maritime Accident Investigation Unit, would improve compliance with extant regulations, such as the international regulations for preventing collision at sea, 1972 and thus enhanced Maritime safety.”

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