The United States Coast Guard has declared that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is on the right path to the successful implementation of the International Ships and Ports Facility Security (ISPS) Code in Nigeria.
The leader of the US Coast Guard team to Nigeria, Mr Tivo Romero made this declaration at a meeting with members of the ISPS Code Implementation Committee in Nigeria on Friday in Lagos during a visit to NIMASA, the Designated Authority for ISPS Code implementation in Nigeria.
Mr Romero, who disclosed that they visited six port facilities in the country during their two-week visit to Nigeria, said that they have noticed tremendous improvement since the last visit to the country.
He commended NIMASA for the outreach to facility operators. In his words: “I must commend the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency for its efforts so far. However, the United States Coast Guard will provide required technical assistance to ensure that infrastructural and legal instruments needed for effective implementation of the ISPS Code in Nigeria are put in place. I urge you all to see this project as a voyage which we have all embarked on, that must be concluded.”
Mr Romero dismissed media reports that claimed that the United States Government would embargo vessels from visiting Nigerian ports noting that the US Government is fully behind Nigeria as a strong business partner that requires desired partnership, a reason for which both countries would always continue to work together and to ensure adequate security in the maritime sector.
On his part, the Director General of NIMASA Mr Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi expressed gratitude for the support so far to ensure compliance in Nigeria.
The Director General, who was represented by the Executive Director, Cabotage and Shipping Development, Barrister Callistus Obi noted that the implementation of the ISPS Code in Nigeria requires the support of all stakeholders. He urged port and terminal operators to see NIMASA as partners whose ultimate goal is to make their facilities a better and safer place for business.
It will be recalled that NIMASA was formally appointed the Designated Authority (DA) of the ISPS Code implementation with an official letter issued by the Ministry of Transport on May 21, 2013; the Agency immediately set out to institute a fresh implementation program as needed.
Since assumption as the DA for the Code implementation, NIMASA has dispatched competent Recognized Security Organizations (RSOs) to conduct security surveys and assessments aimed at identifying and correcting deficiencies and any other observed vulnerabilities.
The ISPS Code involved a continuous year to year inspection of Port Facilities in order to meet up with the required standard, as against an ad-hoc fire brigade exercise.
The US Coast Guard team that visited Nigeria included technical experts whose report will be submitted to its headquarters for onward communication to Nigeria.