Mindful of the strategic placement of the maritime industry on Nigeria’s economic growth ladder, the present administration of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) under the leadership of Dr. Dakuku Peterside has made safety and security a broad plank of its core policies.
Shipping and maritime trade thrives and flourishes only where safety, security and peace are guaranteed. This correlates with the letters and spirit of the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) International Ships and Ports Safety ISPS Code which stresses an enthronement of One Hundred Percent safety and security in the maritime domains, both at sea and in the ports.
Interestingly, NIMASA is the Designated Authority for the ISPS Code implementation in Nigeria, a position rightly thrusted on her in 2013 by the IMO.
Since its appointment by the International Maritime Organisation as the Designated Authority, NIMASA has not relented in ensuring that all stakeholders in the industry comply with the tenets of ISPS Code.
To achieve full implementation and total compliance with the ISPS Code by Nigerian ports and other facilities, a department called the ISPS Code Implementation Unit was established by NIMASA. The Unit, since its establishment, has discovered new port facilities and carried out physical inspections and subsequently issued statutory certificates to facilities that are compliant.
The Unit uses Data Gathering, Port Facility Security Assessment (PFSA), Port Facility Security Plan (PFSP), Verification Inspection Exercise (VIE) and Enforcement Inspection to carry out its responsibilities. This has yielded positive achievements which include: passage of the ISPS Code Implementation Regulations in December 2014, appointment of Lead RSO and other RSOs to fill the capacity gaps in physical assessment of port facilities, discovery of new ISPS Code applicable port facilities, sensitisation and building of synergy amongst stakeholders in ISPS implementation, training of personnel and establishment of new, modern office facility.
Others include exemption of 22 Nigerian Port Facilities from imposition of United States Coast Guard (USCG) special conditions of entry on vessels that had called at the facilities; successful completion of PFSA and PFSP for a substantial number of facilities, 90 percent compliance within the nation’s facilities and issuance of Documents of Compliance to deserving facilities.
Examples of port terminals that complied and got the Documents of Compliance from NIMASA are Five Star Logistics Terminal, Ports and Cargo Handling Services Limited, Greenview Development Nigeria Limited and Tin Can Island Container Terminal (TICT). All these terminals have fully complied with the ISPS Code and operate at Security Level One (1) and can easily switch to either Level 2 or 3 in case of emergency.
Among the security measures put in place by port terminal operators are perimeter fencing, private security guards, CCTV, Muster Points, hand-held scanner, anti-bomb scanner, fire fighting equipment, modern electronic gates, etc. The terminals have also engaged the services of regular policemen. All their security staff personnel have undergone and continue to attend series of trainings in safety and security.
Besides the compliance of Nigerian ports and other oil facilities with ISPS Code, NIMASA has not relented on its oars to provide a safe sea for the country. The agency entered into partnership with other security agencies such as the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force and Marine Police, to conduct regular surveillance on Nigerian waters, a very potent stratagem that has been very successful. For instance, there is the Maritime Naval Guard Command that provides safety and security for lives and properties at sea.
The Federal Government of Nigeria recently approved an Integrated National Security Strategy (INSS) for the Nigerian maritime sector. The INSS will be implemented in collaboration with other countries in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).