It is almost 3 years since President Muhammadu Buhari appointed the Dr. Dakuku Peterside led Executive Management team for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and noteworthy is the fact that the past three years have been very eventful for the Agency. The new management understood the critical need for overall reforms in the Agency to break away from the old ways of doing things and conform to the mantra of change.
In order to create a solid foundation The Dakuku led Management has injected new work ethics and energy in the Agency by creating a SMART vision, mission statement and core values. Especially with the introduction of “Knowledge Transfer Sessions” to address knowledge gaps in the Agency. This monthly event has the Professional and Leadership Series for the different cadres of staff. This perhaps is to support the saying that an organization is only as good as the quality of staff!
Beginning with a quick Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP), in alignment with the programme of the federal government, several management performance briefings and critical reform intervention sessions were carried out, where they outlined priority actions to put the Agency on a path of sustainable growth to impact the maritime industry to regulate, promote and to ensure overall development of the sector
As a result, the Agency reached milestones in its well articulated path to change, dealing with its internal process routine responsibilities and services and dynamic macro-sector challenges; and putting in place parameters to pursue a new vision to be the leading maritime administration in Africa, advancing Nigeria’s global maritime goals. These strategic priorities that led NIMASA to its current objectives which are captured in its 5 pillars for restructuring and repositioning of the Agency being; Survey, Inspection & Certification Transformation Programme, Environment, Security, Emergency Search & Rescue Transformation Initiative, Digital Strategy Reforms, Capacity Building &Promotional Initiatives and Structural & Cultural Reforms.
It is important to note the commencement of the review of its three key legal instruments viz; the Merchant Shipping Act 2007, the NIMASA Act 2007, and the Cabotage Act 2003, to enhance operational efficiency and responsiveness to the needs of the maritime industry. The Agency is also working assiduously under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Transportation to ensure ratification and domestication of relevant International Conventions.
Another landmark achievement of the administration in the past 3 years is the honesty in the implementation of the Cabotage act. This Act which was introduced in 2003 to promote indigenous participation in shipping has never had its implementation so good until this current management. In the last three years Nigerian flagged vessels has enjoyed significant growth, from 262 vessels with a total Tonnage of slightly over 232,000 metric tons in 2015, to almost double in 2016 at 370 vessels with a total Tonnage of almost 420,000 metric tons and in 2017 the Agency registered 307 vessels with a total tonnage of 415,638.03. what this means is that the Agency has stepped up its enforcement drive and ensured that no defaulter of the Cabotage Act is left without paying the due penalty. Steadily the Agency is closing or eliminating previously identified gaps in indigenous capacity with regards to the four pillars of the Cabotage act (Ship building, Manning, Ownership and registration solely by Nigerians). Dakuku has continuously informed stakeholders at different fora that the Agency is hopeful that the Cabotage vessel financing fund (CVFF) is disbursed to boost indigenous capacity and accelerate development in the sector.
In recognition of the to carry every stakeholder along, the Agency is collaboration with the FMOT instituted the Maritime Stakeholders interactive forum where critical issues affecting the industry are brought to the fore and addressed-Two sessions have already been held.
Furthermore, NIMASA is actively involved in maritime environmental projects in compliance with set standards of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as contained in its ratified conventions such as (MARPOL, Ballast Water Management (BWMC), Nairobi/Wreck removal, SOLAS etc.)
Within the period under review, is the Management has shown commitment to the IMO Ballast Water Management objective of protecting the marine environment from the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms in the Ballast water carried by ships. In the year 2016, NIMASA hosted the 8th meeting of the National Task Force (NTF) on the implementation of the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention.
Again, it is a known fact that before now dockworkers welfare had always caused a lot of agitation leading to disruptions and picketing. The Management of the Agency ensured that it midwifed the NJIC Agreement to streamline Seafarers’ employment agreements, regular payment of wages and work safety standards are complied with. Also, pension remittances are now mandatory for all seafarer employers. This has greatly reduced or eliminated incidences of conflicts and fraud in the sector.
One major factor that edge Nigerians out in the affreightment of Nigerian cargo especially crude oil lifting is the prevalent Free on Board trade (FOB) term. Nigeria as a nation has no control in the distribution of its crude oil with respect to carriage, insurance and other ancillary services. The Dakuku led management has rigorously pursued the change of trade Arms from FOB to Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) arrangement, under which the tide is expected to change in favour of indigenous operators. This will not only give distribution control of our hydrocarbon resources to Nigeria but will also empower the Nigerian people through cargo lifting, cargo insurance, thereby creating jobs for the teeming cadets and other ancillary economic and security derivatives.
As can be seen, marine dredging has become one of the contemporary pressures on our environment. The high cost of freight in Nigeria makes it economically imperative to develop deep seaports, hence, three deep seaport dredging projects are taking off almost at the same time. Namely the Lekki Deep Seaport, Ibom Deep Seaport in Akwa Ibom and Badagry Deep Seaport.
In order to ensure sustainability of these projects, NIMASA has developed permitting guidelines for dredging and dumping at sea, and a checklist for monitoring. These actions are in line with the London Protocol on Dumping.
NIMASA Management has also acquired some equipment for restraining oil spill and this has proved very effective. A case at hand is the April, 2017 oil spill incident involving MV PSV Derby which occurred near the Techno Jetty, Kirikiri Phase II, in Lagos. NIMASA carried out preliminary investigations deploying Five (5) booms belonging to the maritime regulators which were deployed to contain the spill.
Also, in compliance with the Merchant Shipping Act on provision for waste reception facilities for Ship-Generated Marine Waste, which ensures that wastes are not indiscriminately discharged into the marine environment. The current management of NIMASA has ensured that the level of wastes discharged into the marine environment have been reduced drastically. This can be seen in the statistics gathered by the monitoring exercise reports by the end of 2017, which showed that vessels that made use of Nigerian Port reception facilities discharged 1,158,743 metric tons of garbage and 76,377 cubic meters of sludge as compared to 2016, when 1,089,610 metric tons of garbage and 21,016 cubic meters of sludge were discharged.
Overall, the digitalization of all the Agency’s operational processes is an integral part of the management’s strategic reform and all efforts are geared towards a successful completion of the projects. one of the digital processes that have been successfully implemented is the NIMASA Satellite Based Maritime Domain Awareness /Surveillance System, which has enhance the Nigerian maritime safety and security activities and facilitated tracking of vessels anywhere within Nigerian waters.
Following the objectives of federal government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which are to prioritize key turnaround interventions and enablers in order to generate concrete, visible impact by end of 2017; and to articulate medium-term economic policies to implement over 2017-20, the Agency had keyed into this direction and pursing a Medium Term Strategic Plan (MTSP) drawn from the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) which it started with and built around the 5 Pillars for the repositioning and restructuring of NIMASA and the maritime sector in Nigeria.
Furthermore, the Executive Order on Ease of Doing Business, the Agency has achieved reduction in turnaround time from 3 days to 24 hours in processing of cargo manifests and issuance of sailing clearance certificates, trade reconciliation and enforcement of levy on vessels husbanded by Shipping Companies/Agent. The full automation of the billing processes has also reduced turn-around time for vessel billing and sailing clearance.
To ensure the effective discharge of its role and help other industry participants in their planning, NIMASA in February 2018 published an Outlook and Forecast for the Nigerian Maritime Sector covering 2018 and 2019. This milestone publication became the first ever Maritime Industry forecast coordinated by an Agency of government in Nigeria.