By Godwin Oritse
THE International Maritime Organization, IMO, has approved the Standard Operation Procedure, SOP, of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, for oil pollution claims from the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds, IOPCF, which provide financial compensation for oil pollution damage that occurs in member states, resulting from spills.
Disclosing this, weekend, in Lagos, Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said that before now, Nigeria never had such a Standard Operating Procedure for claims adding that Nigeria is one of the very few countries in Africa with such approval now.
Peterside also said that the Nigeria’s SOP meets all international requirements for application and assessment of claims in case of oil spill or pollution of the environment.
He stated: “We have since submitted and gotten the approval of the International Maritime Organization for a Standard Operating Procedure for claims management. Now claims management simply means that whenever there is pollution, and you are going to file claims, there must be a standard procedure you need to follow.
“Before now, we never had such a standard operating procedure and so no Nigerian has been able to access that but we contribute to the fund. And we say no, we cannot be contributing to the fund and whenever we have pollution, people cannot access the fund.
“We sat down and fast tracked the developing of a standard operating procedure. Now we submitted our standard operating procedure to IMO and the IMO has agreed that it meets all international convention requirements and that they have approved our standard operating procedure.
“We are among few countries in Africa that has an approved Standard Operating Procedure for claims management from the IMO making Nigerian legible to file claims for any pollution incident that happens within our coastal waters.”
In a related development, the NIMASA has also concluded plans to commence the full enforcement of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, modified by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL 73/78. MARPOL is short for maritime pollution and it is one of the most important international marine environmental conventions.