The Nigerian Shippers Council has assured that it is integrating the Nigerian Navy into its Port Community System in order to assist the Navy in getting first hand information on shipping activities for better planning in area of security of the maritime domain.
Executive Secretary of the Council, Barr Hassan Bello stated this at the weekend when he received the Flag Officer Commanding of the Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji on a courtesy visit to the Council at the weekend.
Bello said the sharing of information with the Navy is important because they have the constitutional right to protect Nigerian territorial waters, a function which he acknowledged the Navy have been doing so well.
He lamented that incidences of piracy on Nigerian waters is being exaggerated by the media, saying that Nigerian shippers are made to suffer for this through payment of “war risk surcharges” on imported cargoes.
According to him, there has been less incidences of piracy on Nigerian waters for the year 2019 and this is a testimony of what the Navy has been doing.
Bello said “We are concerned with the war risk clause that is attached to Nigerian bound cargoes, for every ten attacks on any ship, the Navy has foiled eight of them, but nobody will know about that, it is only some little incidences of armed robbery at sea that is wrongly categorised as piracy and Nigerian shippers are being made to suffer”
“This is why the sharing of information with the Navy is very important, they have the constitutional right to protect our territorial waters and they have been doing that well. The success of merchant shipping depends on the Navy and the collaboration between NIMASA and Navy is well documented”
“If well equipped, the Navy has capability to provide sufficient protection for our territorial waters and this is what we are going to call for”
“We already have a port community system where we deal with the Customs, Nigeria Police, Terminal Operators, shipping companies, insurance companies, shippers freight forwarders and many others”
“Your coming into the community system would brighten the forum”
The Shippers Council boss also called for the support of the Navy in her quest to ensure implementation of the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN)
Nigerian Shippers Council had commenced the implementation, but for administrative and other reasons, the project was suspended
“But we are on the quest of having it now, it makes our ports more efficient for the ease of doing business, it would reduce smuggling, proliferation of arms and so on” he said
Speaking earlier on the purpose of the courtesy visit, Flag Officer Commanding of Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji said the Navy is collaborating with all agencies in the maritime sector to ensure information sharing for proper implementation of policies and security of the waterways.
He appreciated the Shippers Council boss for offering to include the Navy on the Port Community System, even as he informed his host that the Navy already has a robust maritime domain awareness system with capacity to monitor every activity on Nigerian waters.
According to him, the Navy has capacity to see activities of vessels beyond 200nautical miles of Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone.
In his words, Naval boss said “We have a robust maritime domain awareness system comprising of the FALCON EYE and the Regional Maritime Awareness Capability System that we can use to monitor and track vessels up to and beyond our exclusive economic zone beyond 200 nautical miles” he said
Daji appreciated the role of the Shippers Council and the support it has rendered to the Nigerian Navy in the past.
“On the issue of enforcement of policies in the maritime sector, Shippers Council has been doing a lot to identify the gaps, but what is required of us to do now is a synergy of efforts among all the stakeholders to make sure that gaps in policies, regulations and directives are well articulated”
“Luckily, we now have legislatures in place at the federal level that could drive and facilitate the enactment into law or amendment of our laws that are no longer of contemporary relevance”
“In area of research, we would need your assistance to share information about shipping so that we would know the impacts of what we are doing at sea, is it having a positive or negative effect on the shipping industry”
“So we would request the Executive Secretary to come up with a forum where from time to time we can exchange data, and I know that data from the Nigerian Shippers Council would be more authoritative”
“We want to be able to relate well with all agencies in the maritime sector of which we are also a part, there is no single agency that can do it alone and that is the reason for this visit” he said