The Federal Government is set to invest heavily in shipping and regulate the maritime industry to eliminate substandard ships in the country.
The government has also promised to invest in capacity building by equipping Port State Control (PSC) inspectors working in the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and support the agency with the expertise needed to carry out its core duties more effectively.
Speaking at the opening of the regional workshop on PSC for the West and Central African region organised in Lagos, yesterday, the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, said the government is taking pro-active measure to reduce accident rates and fatalities, loss of property and devastating pollution of the marine environment.
The workshop, the Minister said, was organised under the framework of the European Union (EU), Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and the International Maritime Organisation (EU/ACP/IMO) Project in support of the maritime sector in West and Central Africa region.
Amaechi said the high level of maritime activities in the nation’ s territorial waters and the Gulf of Guinea, impose enormous challenges on the Federal Government and other coastal countries in the West and Central Africa in terms of building a robust and effective maritime safety regime.
He therefore, directed the PSC Inspectors at NIMASA and the 19 beneficiary countries to use the opportunity provided by the workshop to update their knowledge and enhance the general drive towards building a robust and effective maritime safety regime in the country and the region.
“As Inspectors of ships for your respective countries, you are all collectively saddled with an important role in the socio-economic activities of your countries and the West and Central African region in general. In that role, you form an important part of the necessary resources required to discharge the responsibilities of your maritime administrations.
“Ensuring Flag Ship Integrity and international obligations for PSC are important elements in the development of maritime safety. “Your capacity to represent your countries by effectively discharging your duties on ships is critical and should therefore be given the required attention,” he directed.
The minister said the region is critical in the global supply of energy due to the economic advantages derived from the transportation of low-sulphur crude oil from the region to Europe and North America. He said the Gulf of Guinea remains an important maritime route for commercial shipping from Europe and America to West, Central and Southern Africa.
While noting that countries under the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on PSC accounts for a significant volume of seaborne cargo to and from African, he implored all participants at the workshop “to take the engagement seriously, remain focused and avail yourselves with the unique opportunity to secure in-depth understanding of the presentations to be delivered by the resource persons.”
In his address, the Acting Director-General of NIMASA, Pastor Haruna Baba Jauro said he was happy to see participants from Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau. Liberia, Mauritania, Sao Tome, Principe, Senegal and Sierra Leone at the workshop.
He said huge investments are needed in human and capital resources to perform PSC inspection effectively and creditably, adding that the dearth of qualified marine professionals is a global phenomenon affecting most countries of the sub-region.
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