By Godwin Oritse with agency report
TWO years after the United States government gave Nigeria an ultimatum to put its port security in order, or face sanction, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) yesterday rated Nigeria high on compliance with International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.
IMO’s Lead Consultant, Mr Brian Cranmer, speaking in Lagos at the opening of a five-day ‘train-the-trainer’s programme said the efforts of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in ensuring compliance with the Code is quite commendable.
He said his conclusion is based on his evaluation of the programmes the management of the Agency has so far put in place for the implementation of ISPS Code in Nigeria.
Reinforcing the need for a high level of security consciousness at the ports, Cranmer said that the restriction of movement in and out of the ports is a step in the right direction.
“From what I have seen and what I am hearing, NIMASA has a very good programme in place; they are all trying hard, carrying out inspections. I have been with them when they carry out these inspections and they are as good as any other country that is implementing the ISPS Code. The port security is okay, because now, they have systems in place; you cannot just get into the ports unless you have an identification card.
“The ports that I have seen, meets the requirements fully, and Nigeria is coming on in leaps and bounds and I think with NIMASA and the compliance department, the inspections are in the right direction”, he stated.
The IMO lead consultant said the effort of the Agency is quite commendable as many countries in Africa and Europe still find it difficult to meet the demands of the Code.
He however warned against the incessant movement of staff which could hamper steady progress especially after some people have been trained in some technical areas.
“There is usually a lot of movement of staff, but you need to keep the staff you have got.
“The staff you have employed and trained should be technically employed and technically trained and you keep them, because they are your assets. Once you have trained staff, they understand how to carry out audits, inspections, how to do the enforcement programme, then you will find the rest of the programme becomes easy,” Cranmer said.
Speaking earlier, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, the Director General of NIMASA, said the training programme was “a demonstration of IMO’s commitment to building competence among member States in the implementation of key maritime conventions.”
Peterside said the training is a direct outcome of the IMO Need Assessment conducted between Jan. 25 and 29, 2016, during which a high standard of implementation of the ISPS Code was observed and commended. He said that to sustain the positive trajectory of the process, the IMO recommended additional training for key NIMASA personnel and stakeholders in the implementation of the provisions of the code.
According to the NIMASA boss, the training would avail participants of a good insight of the DA’s implementation process and a forum for deliberation on contemporary issues related to ensuring compliance by port facilities. He said it will also provide an invaluable networking opportunity for government stakeholders, the importance of which aligns with the effort to build a critical mass of support for the process.
Head of the ISPS Unit in NiMASA, Capt. Green Egbodi, an Assistant Director in the agency, said no fewer than 30 participants were undergoing the training.
He disclosed that the participants were ISPS officers from NIMASA, the Nigerian Ports Authority, the National Inland Waterways Authority, and staff of the Ministry of Transportation. Capt. Egbodi said that the training was necessitated by findings from a Needs Assessment done earlier in January by the IMO, after it had attested to the country’s compliance with the Code. In his words: “When they carried out the Need Assessment this year, they saw some gaps that should be filled, and the whole essence is to make us close the gaps and make improvements.”
“This ‘train-the-trainer’ training is to train some of us and we can now escalate the training further to other agencies and other port facility users in the shipping industry, to make the ports safe.” The training programme, which consists of workshops would build participants and equip them to be able to train others through presentations and necessary exercises.