Strong indications emerged that the United States may lift the Condition of Entry COE placed on vessels that call at Nigeria’s seaports and related facilities over the failure of some of some of these facilities to fully comply with the regulations of the International Ship and Port Facility Security ISPS, Code.

This is ahead of the expected visit of the US Coast Guard USCG in February to inspect some of these facilities, which were in November given three months to comply, a deadline that elapses at the of this month.

Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who spoke in Port Harcourt on Sunday as part of the assessment tour of the agency’s zonal facilities South-South by the some members of board and management, hinted that the agency has taken steps to address some of the issues raised by the USCG during its last inspection visit to Nigeria.

According to him, the agency is not satisfied with the COE slammed on vessels that have come to Nigeria, which implies that they are subjected to rigorous search and verification before they are allowed into the US and seaports and her allies was not good for the growth and development of shipping in the country.

He disclosed that in addition to earlier measures put in place by the agency to ensure that all port facilities complied with the ISPS Code, the current management has transferred the supervision of the compliance exercise to the office of the Executive Director, Operations, Engr. Rotimi Fashake.

It was gathered that before now, the coordination of the compliance exercise for the ISPS was done by a director, which has now been transferred to an Executive Director to underscore the importance and urgency the management attaches to the entre process.

He however said that there have serious improvements in terms of compliance by Nigeria’s port facilities and that after the expected visit of the US Coast Guard; the country’s compliance level would have risen to 90 per cent.

“I can assure you that a lot of things have been done since the last time the inspectors from the US Coast Guard visited Nigeria and I know that after the visit expected to happen this February, the compliance level would have risen to more than 90 per cent”, the DG assured.

On the achievements of the new board and management, he cited the recent promotion of over 300 staffers, establishment of zonal offices in Warri, Port Harcourt and Onne, which were achieved with the kind support and cooperation of the board.

He also assured that the ongoing restructuring, repositioning and reform of the agency would continue until all the desired goals and objectives have been achieved, saying that the rate of piracy within the nation’s waters has drastically reduced, a development that has also boosted investors’ confidence in the Nigerian maritime industry.    

NIMASA had in December last year shut three jetties and port facilities comprising Heyden Petroleum Jetty located in Ijora Lagos; Waziri Jetty on Dockyard Road Apapa Lagos and Starz Marine Shipyard Limited Onne in Rivers State over their persistent failure to comply with the provisions of code after repeated warnings.

It was gathered that the closure, which was reversed about three days later, having signed an undertaking, was to forestall a situation where any security breach in such facilities will negatively impact the compliant ones, which might also work against the general interest of the nation’s seaport industry

Meanwhile, Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, who led a delegation of Nigerian officials to the USCG in Washington DC, had assured that Nigeria would stop at nothing in ensuring that all the port facilities fully complied with the ISPS, Code.

In company of the Minister during the visit which was at the instance of the USCG as an exchange progamme was Director, Maritime Safety and Security in the ministry, Mr. Danjuma Dauda, DG NIMASA, Peterside and Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, Ms. Hadiza Usman.

The Minister had said that following the appointment of NIMASA as the Designated Authority DA for the implementation of the ISPS Code in 2013, the country’s level of compliance with the code has grown from nine per cent in 2013 to 79.3 per cent in 2016.

He however acknowledged the support of the USCG in the country’s quest towards effective implementation and assured the international shipping community that the government and people of Nigeria would maintain this tempo in ensuring full implementation of the code, as part of efforts of the country to ensure safety and security within her maritime domain.

“Nigeria appreciates the efforts and support of the United States Government in encouraging a cordial bilateral relationship with Nigeria not only in the area of maritime security but also in other areas. I want to assure the US Coast Guard and indeed the international shipping community of Nigeria’s commitment to the full implementation of the ISPS code to further promote adequate security within Nigeria’s maritime environment”, the Minister had assured.