By Godwin Oritse
THE Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) said that Nigeria as a maritime nation has not satisfactorily implemented the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) code of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
NIMASA‚Äôs Executive Director Captain Bala Agaba, disclosed this at a meeting of maritime stakeholders comprising jetty owners, shipping firms, on-shore ‚Äì off-shore companies, stevedores and the leadership of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN).
He however said the agency is ready to commence proper implementation of the ISPS code in Nigeria.
Agaba said NIMASA could not do much in implementing the code because of the problem it had with the Presidential Implementation Committee on Maritime Security and Safety (PICOMSS). According to him, for eight years PICOMSS pretended to implement the ISPS code when in actual fact it was not.
He said the agency has concluded plans to convene a stakeholders meeting with a view to resolving the issues ‚ÄòPICOMSS left after it was wound down‚Äô.
‚ÄúWe are not doing very well with regards to the ISPS code but we are going to take up seriously from now. All stakeholders will be invited to a meeting with a view to ensuring that the ISPS code is properly implemented,‚Äù he added.
It will be recalled that about five months ago, the Federal Government scrapped the Presidential Implementation on Maritime Security and Safety (PICOMSS), following its refusal to merge with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The development according to an official of Port Facility Security Officer (PFSO) forum, who spoke to Vanguard under condition of anonymity, will definitely impact negatively on the port security system.
Sources close to the dissolved PICOMSS said that it had to opt for the Committee to be scrapped because NIMASA‚Äôs definition of security is a far cry from what it should be.¬† The source also stated that the late Former Security Adviser, General Patrick Azazi, was made to convince the President on the need to either merge PICOMMS with NIMASA or have it scrapped.
Both the NIMASA and PICOMSS have been at logger heads over who should be in control of the security in nation‚Äôs water ways. At a point, international Oil Companies operating in Nigeria, were paying dues to PICOMSS for providing security services for their operations. This move however, did not go down well with NIMASA who consequently launched an onslaught on¬† the Committee and ensured that it was finally scrapped.
It would also be recalled that at a time both the Presidency and the Senate Committee on Marine Transport were at loggerheads over two separate maritime security bills that underwent some legislative processes. While the then Senator Gbemi Saraki-led Senate Marine Committee was pushing for the passage of the Coast Guard Bill, the Presidency¬† promoted the passage of a Maritime Security Agency, a department that would have¬† duplicated the function of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.
Sources close to the Marine Transport Committee said that the President requested that the National Assembly approve the setting up of a maritime security agency that will protect ships, oil facilities and ports in the Niger-Delta region.