By Godwin Oritse
THERE are indication of a plan to scrap the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) as a bill to float another maritime security agency is underway. Already aÂ a presentation of the proposed bill has been done at the National Assembly to press for an accelerated legislative process of the bill with a view to passing it into law as soon as possible.
National Assembly sources told Vanguard that the promoters of the bill are coming under the guise of providing security for oil and gas installations in the Niger-Delta in post-amnesty, a function NIMASA has been performing long before now.
â€œThey want to come through the back door, in all intents and purposes, the bill negates the NIMASA Act,â€ the source said.
The executive bill will have a ten-man board which will be headed by someone not below the rank of a Brigadier-General to be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the National Security Adviser.
The proposed maritime security agency is a fallout of the defunct Presidential Implementation Committee on Maritime Safety and Security (PICOMSS) which was set up to implement the International Ship and Ports Facilities Security Code otherwise known as the ISPS Code introduced by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
It was also gathered that the power point brought into the National Assembly failed to function, as they were given another date to make anotherÂ presentation.
While NIMASA is currently collecting three per cent freight rate from all in and out-bound cargoes, the bill is also seeking the collection of an additional one per cent as a source of funding.
Promoters of the bill have launched a heavy lobby strategy to mobilize members of the National Assembly to ensure the bill is passed into law before the end of the first quarter of next year.
Maritime analysts are, however, of the opinion that the bill will only end up duplicating the functions of NIMASA, and instead called on members of the National Assembly to speed up the legislative process of the Coast Guard bill.
A group under the aegis of Maritime Industry Initiative Advocacy (MAIN) has vehemently opposed the Maritime Security Agency Bill saying that â€œthe proposed agency will threaten the existence of NIMASA, it will also add to cost of shipping consignments into Nigeriaâ€.
He, however, called on members of the National Assembly to kick against the move, not only because of NIMASA, but also because of the fact that it will create more problems in the maritime industry.
The Executive Director of MAIN, Mr Sesan Onileimo called on maritime industry stakeholders to come together and collectively oppose the bill. The NGO stressed that the proposed law will adversely affect operators in the maritime industry.