Maritime expert extols NIMASA over ISPS Code implementation



A maritime expert and a former master mariner, Capt.Abiodun Omoteso, says the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA)  has performed impressively as the Flag State Administration, which is the Designated Authority in the implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security(ISPS) Code.
Capt. Omoteso made this remark while giving an overview of the ISPS Code implementation in Nigeria at a one-day seminar on ISPS Code organised by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) in Lagos at the weekend.

“Within these two years that NIMASA was identified as the Flag State Administration and the Designated Authority for the implementing the ISPS Code,  I think they have done extremely well when you consider the damages that have been done before they took over. The responsibility as related to implementation is enormous.”
Omoteso explained that Nigeria did not start early in the implementation of the code even though the implementation date was fixed for July 2004, when Nigeria domesticated the ISPS Code.
He said the implementation of the ISPS Code got problematic in Nigeria because the committee set up for the purpose got it wrong, adding that the problem however got solved when all nations that endorsed the code were required to identify the government Designated Authority.
“In my own opinion, the committee got it all wrong from day one, and implementation became so problematic.
“It was a good thing that like two years ago, for every nation that endorsed the ISPS code, there was publication by the government identifying the government Designated Authority.
“In all the maritime nations of the world, the Designated Authority is the Flag State Administration, which in our own case is NIMASA,” he said.
Omoteso, however, said that since 2010, members of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) had been undertaking amendment of the code to improve port security locally.
He noted that NIMASA had to work according to what the code defined as port facility, which generally means a section of the port that interfaces with ships on international voyages.
According to the maritime expert, NIMASA assesses port facilities to guide against loopholes that could lead to attacks, and that with the assessment, a port facility plan is ordered and kept by the Flag State so that in case something is happening in that facility they know how to handle it.
He also said that part of the progress recorded through NIMASA’s effort was the endorsement of schools to training of the human elements required, and the professionalism involved in inspection of ships coming into Nigeria, to ascertain compliance.
“For the first time in this nation, the inspection of ships coming into the nation, to ensure that they are in compliance with ISPS Code has been good. They have done the port state inspection to ensure that ships coming in are compliant with the regulations. 
“They have got professionals now in the flag state; they know what is going on around the world. They are abreast with other international safety regulations affecting the ship,” Omoteso said.
Also speaking at the event, Mr George Umanah, a Certified Port Facility Security Officer of Greenview Terminal, said the terminal was operating under a high security level, in order to comply with regulations of the ISPS Code.
He said that for security reasons, movement in and out of the terminal was restricted because the port should only be for genuine businesses.
 “The port is not a place that you come for the sake of it; the port is a place where you come and do a genuine business,” Umanah said.
He urged every stakeholder to make security a top priority.