A key area of focus for the Federal Government in the maritime sector is the provision of effective security, should the nation desire a hub status in shipping.
President of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM), Captain Tajudeen Alao, made this known in an interview at the weekend.
Onepageafrica reports that there have been concerns about security of the nation’s maritime domain, considering a number of maritime crimes including sea robberies and pirates’attacks on the nation’s waters.
At various times however, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Administration (NIMASA) has insisted that it has continued to make efforts at ensuring security provision for the nation’s maritime domain.
But, the master mariners president has also insisted that the government should consider provision of security as a key concern when the new administration begins.
Capt. Alao said government must now adopt a more proactive approach to security matters for the maritime domain.
He said “for the next four years, the government should focus on security in the maritime sector, and doing more in search and rescue.
“It is more important to adopt a proactive approach. So, government should be concerned with early detection and deterrent of crimes in the maritime domain.”
Alao also spoke on the importance of the navy collaborating with NIMASA to achieve the best maritime security output.
He said that while NIMASA oversees the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code application to ensure compliance, and its search and rescue unit takes charge of surveillance, the Navy should support the effort at the background, to leave it as a civil assignment.
Highlighting the gains of a better secure maritime domain, Alao said: “Ships will like to come to Nigeria for bunker, repairs, waiting, for programming and all. Nigeria will become a shipping hub naturally once there is security. And they know if they are in distress they will get prompt response.
“If we play a leading role in this, they will come looking for us. But for now, coming to Nigeria is like coming to a war zone. The seafarers are afraid, the captain is afraid, the shipowner is afraid, the cargo
owner is afraid, So, the insurance premium is raised.”
He said there must be improvement in the logistics involved in cargo clearance and movement from port to owner‘s destination.
His words: “No singe window to clear cargo in Nigeria. Documentation at the ports by all government agencies is always slow. They all want to do inspection, while shipping companies are under pressure to task the importer. So, the agents are crying.”
Alao said government must also address the problem of the perennial traffic gridlock that had led to increased cost of doing business, as truckers moved their fees from N20,000 to as much as N200,000 in order to make up for lost time on the roads.
In his views, Alao wants government to focus on providing a seamless security for the maritime domain as well as fixing all necessary infrastructure supporting port operations to ensure Nigeria earns its desired
hub status in shipping.