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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.

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