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Nigeria may lose out from Abuja MoU over low shipping capacity, infrastructure
Ahead of new drive to harmonize port state control inspection procedures that will lead to the elimination of substandard shipping in the West and Central Africa sub-region, the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will host its 3rd Ministerial Conference and 9th Port state Control Committee Meeting soon.
However, just as the aim of developing a unified system of Port State Control inspection procedure for the region is to entrench global best practices, Nigerian industry experts say due to the nation’s weak indigenous shipping capacity and dearth of shipping infrastructure, the country may lose out in the region.
The meeting billed to begin tomorrow in Ghana, is the 3rd Ministerial Conference themed “Tightening the Net: Regional Cooperation to Eliminate Substandard Shipping” and the 9th Port state Control Committee Meeting will end on March 28th in port city of Accra.
For more than three years into the life of the current administration, local sippers have been driven up and down on terms and conditions they have to meet before the government through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), will disburse both The Maritime Fund (TMF) and Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).
The latest condition coming from the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi and the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside is that shippers must form groups to apply for the funding.
Observers say this particular condition, differs from others coming since they started pushing for the release of the facility.
In one of the occasions, the minister queried it there if such fund in the first instance.
Both Nigerian officials will join other Ministers of member states and CEOs of the Maritime Administrations to review and assess the implementation level of actions identified at the previous ministerial conferences and agree on further actions required to improve maritime safety in the region.
In his remarks ahead of the meeting, the DG NIMASA Dr. Peterside was quoted in a Sunday statement as saying that “African Maritime Industry has come of age, this is why we owe the continent, through our regional cooperation the responsibility of creating a frame work that will aid the reduction and eventual elimination of substandard shipping, prevention of marine pollution and improvement of the living and working conditions of seafarers aboard ships”.
The Secretary General of the Abuja MoU, Barr. Mfon Usoro, noted that the meeting will present an opportunity for the Ministers and CEOs of Maritime Administrations of member states an opportunity to identify common areas of concern that require consolidation. She further said that the conference will ensure the strengthening of capacity of members States and their Maritime Administrations in order to target sub-standard ships, achieve desired regional harmonization and cooperation of port and flag state implementation processes that will also lead to improving the living and working conditions of shipboard officers and crew as well as ensure prevention of pollution in the region’s waters.
Usoro averred that “this year’s event would be highlighted by the issuance of Ministerial Declaration by Ministers of Transportation in the Abuja MoU region to guide the future activities of the MoU. The conference will also feature the inauguration of the Hon. Minister of Transportation of Ghana (Hon. Kwaku Ofori Asiamah) as the new Chairman of the MoU”.