By Godfrey Bivbere & Sharon Obiakor
THE United States Coast Guard, USCG, has given hints on how to further improve security at the nation’s seaports and other port facilities.
A visiting delegation of the USCG led by Lt Commander Janna Ott, commended the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, for its efforts in improving security and operational efficiency within Nigeria’s maritime domain.
The delegation which was in Nigeria to inspect facilities at the ports, said NIMASA had taken laudable steps to improve Nigeria’s compliance with the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) code.
Commenting on her engagements with the NIMASA team Ott, a representative of the US Coast Guard in International Port Security Programme, stated: “You do have a really great team here. They were very helpful.
“I thank them for their frank and open discussion in allowing us to give them our observations. Hopefully, they can take whatever we have given them to heart and start working on them right away.”
She, however, urged greater vigilance in terms of access to the ISPS zones at the ports.
“It’s very important that you know in your port facilities who is gaining access and they are authorised to be there before they go through those gates of the ISPS zone,” Ott stated.
“You also need to be consistent with the proficiencies of all the security personnel in holding people accountable that are coming through those port facilities. We already had a very good discussion with NIMASA,” she added.
Responding, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said the country had made significant progress in addressing the issue of access control around the port areas.
Peterside, who spoke through NIMASA’s Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Bashir Jamoh, said, “The issue of access control is one of the paramount areas. The access road, access control, those are very important areas.
“Similarly, on access control, we just introduced stickers to the ports. We started implementing it early this month.”
According to a statement signed by the NIMASA’s Head of Corporate Communication, Isichei Osamgbi, Peterside said that federal government had taken measures in partnership with the private sector to ensure that all port facilities in Nigeria were easily accessed.
He said NIMASA had recorded steady progress in its implementation of the ISPS Code, stressing that Nigeria has moved from implementation to enforcement.
He told the US Coast Guard team, “The issues you mentioned, we are dealing with them. One of the things we have introduced is training. We are aware that some of the facilities have these issues. Right now, most of them are going into biometric access control, which you observed in some of the terminals, like MRS, Five Star Logistics, etc.”