The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) says the agency is taking constructive steps in ship registry aimed at maintaining Nigera’s influence international trade.
The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside, said this during the Nigerian Ship Registry Interactive Forum with ship owners held on Tuesday in Lagos.
The theme of the forum was “Repositioning The Nigerian Ship Registry for Sustainable Growth’’.
Ship Registry gives a ship a nationality, a flag and an identity.
He said:“This interactive forum with ship owners is to bring them up-to-date with the ongoing reforms in the Nigerian Ship Registry.
“The present management began the drive to restructure the Nigerian Ship Registry by inaugurating a committee on the review of the activities and operations of the Nigerian Ship Registration Office on Feb. 27, 2018.
“Part of the Terms of Reference given to the committee were to examine the status of the Ship Registry in line with international best standards and recommend requisite improvements, of which a report was submitted in 2019 with far reaching recommendations grouped into short, medium and long term measures.
“Immediately after, the Implementation Monitoring Committee was inaugurated on August 20, 2019 to chart a course for the implementation of the recommendations.
“Our goal as a maritime safety administration is to create a world class Ship Registry which will be attractive to shipowners with the aim of maintaining the influence of Nigeria in evolving international commercial and regulatory environment for shipping”.
According to him, Nigeria currently operates a Closed Registry with about 2,725 active vessels of various capacity.
He added that in 2019, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) ranked the Nigerian Ship Registry number 2 in Africa after Liberia (which operates an Open Registry) and 46 in the world.
Peterside noted that the agency’s desire was to have Nigerian flag vessels involved in international commercial trade and the reason efforts were being made to build capacity and ensure that Nigerians acquire high capacity vessels.
He said that it would ensure the country not only be involved in the lifting of its hydrocarbons but carry its cargos to other parts of the world.
“ Nigeria operates a closed ship registry, however, most renowned ship registries in the world such as the UK Ship Register, today maintain a Second or International Register.
“This is to attract tonnage whilst using the Closed Register to develop indigenous capacity and for domestic trade similar to our cabotage regime.
“Nigeria having a second or international register will help grow the country’s fleet and input our footprints in international commercial trade,” Peterside said.
The NIMASA D-G said that in 2018/19, the agency attracted into its register two high index capacity vessels – “Egina FPSO” and “MT Ultimate”.
He said that there was no doubt that a lot more could be done to assist Nigerians in acquiring vessels and that was why the agency was making efforts to disburse the Cabotage Vessels Finance Fund (CVFF).
He disclosed that the agency was also partnering with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to drive capacity in the industry.
He listed the constructive steps taken by the agency in the Ship Registry to include audit of register of Nigerian vessels, redesign and production of new ship registry certificate and automation of the ship registry.
Others include upgrade of the ship registry filling facility, review of ship registration guideline, and ISO 9001: 2015 certification.
Peterside also urged ship owners to keep their eyes firmly fixed on the objective of building a world class Ship Registry and hoped to rely on their guidance, experience, industry know-how and cooperation to endow the desperately needed credence and international respect for the Nigerian Flag.
He encouraged them to fly and promote the Nigerian Flag.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Ship Registry Committee, Mr Emmanuel Ilori, urged NIMASA to set clear timelines for the administative process of ship registration and put in place clear and precise change in flag instructions.
Ilori, an engineer, also advised the agency to ensure that qualified tonnage measures were employed to serve in the safety department.
He commended the agency’s drive to enshrine full automation of all ship registration processes, revealing that it was one of the recommendations of the Ship Registry Review committee.