… Says Ghana Seafarers are better positioned***
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has been charged not to assume maritime security as its core focus at the expense of other obligations.
The Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki gave the charge, warning against being myopic while engaging maritime lawyers on Friday.
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According to her, the agency may become overwhelmed by the burden of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) while other neighbouring countries were recording notable accomplishments in seafaring, better capacity for indigenous ship owners and other aspects of maritime administration.
She was however happy that Nigeria has commendably taken the lead role in combating piracy in the GoG but noted that Ghana Maritime Authority has been able to secure a better positioning for its seafarers with the Ghanaian Certificate of Competency (CoC) accepted anywhere in the world.
A CoC is a mandatory document required for mariners to work on ships.
The certificate ensures that the concerned seafarer has sufficient knowledge and skills to sail on ocean-going vessels.
The minister commended NIMASA, Nigerian Navy and other agencies who have played crucial roles in attaining peace and enjoined the entire shipping stakeholders to work together in the fight to get Nigeria off the war risk zone.
Saraki averred that five months may be argued to be too short a period for a review by global players, hence, she encouraged the agencies to sustain the peace in the maritime domain for a year.
The minister pointed out that the struggle now should be on how to remove Nigeria from the war risk, adding that she understands that the Director-General of NIMASA is scheduled to go to London by September to make a case and there is a need for input from everybody.
She called on all and sundry to come together to make a case for the war risk insurance to be removed.
“Apparently, the thinking of the international community could be that this success has only been recorded for the past 5 months and may not justify why Nigeria should be off the war risk zone. I perceive that we should be in a better position to negotiate after a year of zero piracy attacks,” she stated.
She spoke on the non-disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF), assuring stakeholders that plans are ongoing to get the new disbursement guidelines approved by the National Assembly.
She said it was disheartening that the $350million (N210billion) fund has not been disbursed but we will work with the National Assembly to ensure its disbursement; just watch, it has to be disbursed, especially with the coming on stream of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The minister dwelt on the need for the nation’s transportation sector to have a clear roadmap, assuring that a National Transport Policy and a Maritime Policy will be concluded soon.