By DAPO OLAWUNI
The scourge of fake Certificate of Competency (COC) among Nigerian seafarers have dropped drastically, so says the former President of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) Capt Adewale Ishola.
Capt Ishola in a chat with newsmen at the weekend attributed the reduction in fake seafarers COC to efforts being made by the Port Control Officers under the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)
According to him, the NIMASA Port Control Officers have stepped up the level of inspection and sanctions.
Speaking, he said “NIMASA has in place, Port Control Officers, when they go onboard and find out that your certificate is fake, you would be removed from that vessel. Secondly, because you are carrying fake certificate, you would be banned from writing further examination.
“You would now be made to face a tribunal for malpractices.
All these are in place, and this is why the number of fake certificate have reduced drastically, because they already know that they have penalties in place” he said
Capt Ishola also took time to explain the disparity between the Near Coastal Voyage (NCV) certificate and the Unlimited COC certification being issued by NIMASA.
The NCV certification has created a lot of controversies among Nigerian seafarers because many of them are reduced to working within Nigerian coastal workers only.
“There has been a lot of confusion on what we call Near Coastal Voyage (NCV) and the Unlimited Certificate of Competency.
NIMASA is working in line with IMO regulations which governs all countries on IMO white list.
“When we talk about Near Coastal Voyage, it is like home trade in those days, and when you talk about Unlimited, you are talking about foreign going.
“What brought about the Near Coastal Voyage is the limitation on the tonnage of the vessel you have to work on, 500GT or less than 3,000GT, you are to work in our Coastal or Cabotage region.
“But if you are going to extend this NCV to areas like Cape Verde or up to Angola within the Gulf of Guinea, it means you have to go into agreement with different countries and enter into an MoU with them because they are also on the white list
“By this, we would have reciprocal recognition of our CoC, this is part of what NIMASA should do, I think they have been doing this with some countries for the endorsement of their certificate
“Why do we issue NCV? there are people who have not attended nautical institutions like Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) in Oron, Federal College of Fisheries or other approved institutions.
“If you have not attended these schools, you have not obtained a national diploma in nautical science or marine engineering, then you would not be given an approval to do Unlimited certification.
“If you have other discipline from other institutions that are not nautical based, NIMASA can only give you NCV Certificate.
“But when you have been trained, you have gotten your diploma or HND in the approved nautical institutions or even a Bsc in nautical science, then you are entitled to write your exams and be given unlimited COC, this means you can sail with any vessel of any size and you can trade worldwide.
“But people who are having NCV can only trade within our Cabotage region or in other areas where we have MOU with countries in the sub-region. The two certificates are however approved by IMO” Capt Ishola concluded