The United States Coast Guard (USCG) has undertaken a crucial peer review of Nigeria’s maritime domain, with a focus on the implementation of the International Ships and Ports Security (ISPS) Facility Code.
This is in a bid to improve maritime security and uphold international best practices.
According to a press statement issued by the Assistant Director, Public Relations, of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Osagie Edward, the review comes as part of a collaborative effort with NIMASA to ensure safety and compliance in the nation’s ports and jetties.
NIMASA was designated as the administrative authority for the ISPS Code in Nigeria in 2013.
The visit of the USCG team is a pivotal step in monitoring compliance levels and strengthening cooperation through a rigorous Peer Review exercise.
Leading the team from the US Coast Guard, Lt. Cdr. Jonna L. Clouse highlighted the significance of engaging with NIMASA on a regular basis.
He said the cooperation aims to facilitate the implementation of the ISPS Code across more ports and jetties in Nigeria, ultimately bolstering the safety of the entire maritime domain.
“Our desire is to enhance cooperation between the Nigerian maritime sector and the United States Coast Guard. We will also offer our expertise to NIMASA in closing identified gaps. We hope to work with NIMASA and reduce or end the Conditions of Entry regime for Vessels from Nigeria to the United States,” he stated.
Commending the NIMASA Management for their efforts, Lt. Cdr. Clouse expressed optimism in the peer review partnership’s ability to further strengthen maritime security.
Dr. Bashir Jamoh, the Director General of NIMASA, while speaking emphasized the dynamic nature of maritime threats and patterns, underscoring the importance of peer review partnerships.
He noted that the collaborations offer avenues for enhancing the capacities necessary for effective ISPS Code implementation.
To ensure ISPS compliance, Dr. Jamoh revealed that over 90% of ports and jetties in Nigeria have already met the required standards. However, he called on the United States to reconsider the Conditions of Entry regime for vessels calling at some of its ports.
“It is worthy of note that despite efforts taken by NIMASA in improving Port Security and ISPS Code implementation in Nigeria, the issue of Condition of Entry (COE) still hovers over vessels from Nigeria calling at Ports in the United States,” explained Dr. Jamoh.
He highlighted that stringent port controls lead to delays and additional costs, adversely affecting shipping economies within the Gulf of Guinea and placing strain on Nigeria’s shipping industry.
In response, NIMASA has proposed an action plan to the US Coast Guard, urging them to physically assess the compliance levels of the facilities listed in the Condition of Entry. Dr. Jamoh further called for the removal of Nigeria from the Condition of Entry list, a move that would significantly ease shipping procedures between the two nations.
The NIMASA Director General assured the US Coast Guard team of NIMASA’s commitment to closing all identified gaps before the full Audit in August, signifying the agency’s determination to enhance maritime security measures.