The Nigerian Ship Registration Office under the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is being repositioned for greater world recognition and respectability, even as a review committee set up to address challenges in the registry has completed its assignment.
The committee was set up on February 27th year 2018 to specifically look into the flaws in Nigerian ship registry and come up with recommendations on how to bring it up to international standard.
At a brief ceremony to mark the official submission of the report in Apapa Lagos yesterday, Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside annouced that the agency was pursuing an International Standards Certification for Nigerian ship registry to give it global respect.
The ceremony was well attended by shipowners represented by Alhaji Aminu Umar, President of Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) President Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) Dr. Mcgeorge Onyung, President Master Mariners, Capt Tajudeen Alao, Former DG of NIMASA, Temi Omatseye, Association of Marine Engineers and Surveyors (AMES) represented by President, Charles Uwadia, amongst other notable dignitaries.
Note that prior to now, the Nigerian ship registry has suffered neglect, a situation that discouraged shipowners from flying the flag. It is also worthy to note that the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) does not have confidence to fly the Nigerian flag.
But all that is set to change as Peterside promised yesterday that in a matter of months, Nigeria and indeed Nigeria would become the first to attain a 5-star ISO 90012015 certification in the whole West African Region.
While receiving the report of the 9-man committee headed by Eng Emmanuel Ilori, Dakuku gave two commitments, first is that implementation of the recommendations in the report would be pursued vigorously with all sense of purpose and commitment.
“Commitment number two is that in the next few months, we would be pursuing vigorously International Standards Certification of the Nigerian ship registry, as you are aware, we are going into ISO90012015 and we believed that any moment from now, the agency would be certified and we would be the first in West African Region who earns ISO certification amongst maritime administration”
“The idea of the International Standards Certification is that Nigeria would become the first ship registry in the continent of Africa to earn five star international standard certification, this is a commitment we are making to you and by next year it would be a reality, you have a right to challenge us next year if we have achieved it or not” he said
While analysing the benefits of the review of the ship registry, he said it will bring respect and reputation for the Nigerian ship, provide access to funding in the International financing space as well as well ensure sea time experience for Nigerian cadets.
He said “If you have a ship from the flag of convenience or what they called local registry and I have another ship that is carrying British Red and White sign, the UK flag; automatically, that vessels carrying UK flag, it is respected, it is believed it meets every global standard, it is manned by the right people and it will not be involved in any illegal activity because there are minimum standards accepted by the UK ship registry but this can not be said by flag of convenience”
Dakuku said most crimes on the international high seas is committed by vessels carrying the flag of convenience are most times tagged vessels of interest.
He lamented that currently, there are not too many ocean going vessels flying Nigerian flag, even vessels owned by Nigerian Liquified Gas Limited (NLNG) are not flying Nigerian flag. They are flying flag of other countries.
“When you talk about what Nigerian flag can do for the Nigerian economy, it will bring respect and reputation for the Nigerian ship. If the Nigerian ship industry is solid, reputable, business and business friendly, it will command global respect. it will attract vessels to the Nigerian ship registry and Nigeria flag ship leaving Nigeria for other countries, will also earn her own place”
“It would be respected and it would mean technical competent and more disposition by the international community. So the first thing it does is to the Nigerian reputation, it gives access to funding in the International financing space, it will play big if your vessel is registered in the Nigerian ship registry and Nigerian ship industry commands respect”
“Out there, financial institutions can deal with you, the can transact, they know about the integrity of the Nigerian flag and they can transact with you. You can now access capital at a competitive rate, at relatively cheap rate. There are funding out there but if your vessel is not in the flag that command respect, people will circumspect in dealing with you”
“The third it does is that it will attract investment to work for you. It enhances the status of the Nigerian Nigerian seafarers. If a ship now is tracted in UK, it means all seafarers there are found to be competent, once you leave there, you can be employ anywhere. People will employ you knowing that you have already worked with British Flag vessels before”
“So if Nigerian ship registry earns that reputation, we can’t be fighting for seatime berth for our cadets. Our cadets can practice on vessels flag Nigeria and become employable anywhere in the world. Again, cost of insurance, it will drastically reduce insurance premium payable by those vessels. If your vessel today is registered under the Nigerian flag, the insurance club in London will treat you with some caution”
“If we enhance the quality of the Nigerian flag, the insurance firms both in London and this country can deal with you, knowing you are technically solid, your safety records are good and you are bringing some value, that is another thing it will do. The insurance premium will come down. Then other thing, a solid Nigerian ship registry will do, will be acceptability in other country. when you go to other countries, their port post control officer could delay you, they make you vessels of interest but if they assured the quality of your flag, they know you meet all the technical standards set by IMO or regional MoUs” he said
Speaking earlier, Chairman of the Ship Registry Review Committee, Eng Emmanuel Ilori noted that before now, people do not want to place their vessels under Nigerian flag because the flag was no longer attractive.
He said that at some point, banks were becoming more exposed to bad debt because bad reputation of the Nigerian flag.
He however assured that if the recommendations of the committee are followed to the letter, it would attract investment and raise Nigerian flag acceptability.
According to Ilori, the committee members visited world class shipping registries including the UK Ship Registry, Norwegian Ship Registry, Classification Societies including the American Bureau of Survey and other world class classification societies.
He said the committee has extracted commitments from these ship registry who said they are willing to support the Nigerian ship registry, noting that if Nigeria functions well, then Africa will function well.
The committee also interrogated the various departments that have a role to play in ship registration, they engaged stakeholders, collated their opinions and expectations on what a ship registry should be.