From left: Director, Africa, Port of Antwerp International, Belgium, Nico Vertongen, Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Belgium, Paulette Gondry-Van Trier, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside, Senior Event Executive, Antwerp Port Authority, Kathleen Reinehr and Managing Director, Grimaldi Agency, Nigeria, Ascanio Russo during the visit of the delegation from the Port of Antwerp to NIMASA in Lagos at the weekend.

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA is concluding plans to partner the Port of Antwerp in Belgium in line with the efforts of the agency to boost international trade and encourage inflow of Foreign Direct Investments FDI into the maritime industry.

Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, made this disclosure when he played host to a team from the Port of Antwerp in Belgium led by the Director, Africa Port of Antwerp International, Mr. Nico Vertongen, in Lagos at the weekend.

Speaking at the meeting, the NIMASA DG stated that the Port of Antwerp has had a long standing relationship with the port community in Lagos, noting that from 2017 till date, 302 vessels have called between the Port of Antwerp and the ports community in Lagos. He said within the period, 33 vessels conveyed export goods from the Port of Lagos terminating at the Port of Antwerp, with 22 Belgium-flagged vessels calling at Nigerian ports and several other volumes of transactions.

According to him, the Agency was willing to consolidate on the gains of the Nigeria-Belgian relationship.

“We have always had a business relationship with the port of Antwerp either as destination ports or ports of origin. We are glad to know that you are in Nigeria and planning to lead a business mission sometime in November to the Lagos Port Community. Our position is straight forward and clear; we welcome the business mission with our doors open and believe there is a lot we can do together,” the DG said.

Peterside also stated that the November meeting will be the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship in diverse ways that will also give opportunities for exchange of ideas. “It  will also open opportunities for training for our people and it will give you a better understanding of how the ports in Lagos, Nigeria, in Africa work, leading to the volume of trade between ports and other operations,” he added.

The DG who expressed concerns about the isolated negative representation of the Nigerian maritime sector in the media, said efforts were being made to stem it. He told the delegation that the Agency, which has the responsibility to ensure maritime security in the ports and waterways, had put in place a number of strategies, including a legal framework on piracy and maritime crime and acquisition of assets to build up response capability, to stop the pirates and criminals from operating within the coastal waters. The Agency is also building up alliance with Nigeria’s immediate neighbours, Peterside also stated.

“Therefore, in November, we will have the opportunity of setting up business to business meetings; we have a number of Nigeria businesses that are interested in doing business with operators in Belgium, precisely in the ports of Antwerp. And as you have notified us today, we will begin to prepare ship owners in Nigeria; those who have set up ship repair yards, ship building yards, operators and all of those for business to business meeting in November and it is believed that it will be rewarding”, Dr. Peterside said.

Meanwhile, the Director, Africa of the Port of Antwerp International, Mr. Nico Vertongen, who spoke earlier on behalf of the delegation noted that the Port of Antwerp intended to come to Nigeria in November on a business mission with the intention of boosting the already existing relationship between the ports community in Lagos and the Antwerp Port.

He also expressed their readiness to partner the Agency on port security, safety and also possible areas of training, adding that the meeting will further be an opportunity for the duo to be official partners. 

Recall that NIMASA has continued to embrace collaborations and partnerships, a development that has boosted the realisation of its dream of creating a robust maritime industry in Nigeria in line with best global practices.