Opinion: Important nuances for revitalising NIMASA’s Ship Registry

Olu Akinsoji is a marine engineer, a onetime Government Inspector of Shipping and pioneer Nigerian Alternate Permanent Representative of Nigeria in the IMO

Engr. Olu Akinsoji

By Engr. Olu Akinsoji

An attractive registry is the one that has enough integrity to support reliable transportation of goods and services by sea, and the intention of the management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on revitalising the National Ship Registry is laudable, clear and commendable.
It is my opinion that the intention is to reviltalise the ship registry for reliable support and efficient enough to attract Nigerian entrepreneurs and their partners to register their ships in Nigeria and fly our national flag in the ocean of the world, that we should move away from the embarrassing position of very low tonnage in the comity of maritime nations and that we should create opportunities for Nigerians to grow in shipping technology, management and earn freight from the cargo we generate into the world market.

If these intentions remain the focus of the management, we will not dwell perpetually on the act of measuring wealth based on taxation of freight earnings, rather we shall measure wealth (visible and invisible) based on the returns from indigenous freight earnings and services.

 In order that these noble intentions of the management to be achieved, we should accept our weakness in interpreting reports and other instruments for effective implementation, consequently this report, in my opinion should be given a special attention it deserves.

As a onetime Director General, Government Inspector of Shipping and the pioneer Nigerian Alternate Permanent Representative of Nigeria in IMO, I wish to suggest as follows:

1. The report should be analysed by the management, possibly with the assistance of the key members of the committee with a view to developing the implementation plan of the recommendations.

2. The plan should detail out the institutional and structural reforms contained in the report. It should also provide estimate cost of implementation, including schedules of funding as necessary. It should also provide the timeline.  
It should identify specific training needs and position, assessment methods, and all elements of good management of the registry   

3. The Management should consider more seriously the work of the Ministerial Committee on the establishment of Nigerian Fleet, particularly the development of the National Merchant Shipping, ship owning and flagging incentives, which is at the presidential level because the outcome of it will determine the success of registry.

4. The management should put to test its plan of action by discussion with Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas( NLNG) and other big Nigerian Cargo owners like Dangote, and some oil companies.

5. Nigeria generates sufficient cargo for international trade, NIMASA law provide for shipping development fund, provide for cargo control, provide for possible partnership, and provide for responsibility for training and manpower development.
Ships can be designed to trade, carrying cargo and trainee/cadets in such a manner that the generated freight earnings can offset significant cost of training.

Based on the aforementioned facts, the revitalisation of the registry will bring NIMASA to a perfect position of development to commence the procedure of buying at least three training/trading ships with a well-defined foreign assistance.

I want to congratulate Engr. Emmanuel Ilori and his team for the work on one of the most important segments of the national shipping development, and particularly for delivery of a report on the successful completion of the assignment.
I have not read the report, but I have enough reasons to believe that it is a successful work at placing before the authorities and probably the concerned public what will make the national shipping registry efficient, reliable and attractive.