By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control for West and Central African Region (Abuja MoU) has said that it would introduce wearing of body cameras for Port State Control Officers within the West and Central African Region.
Secretary General of Abuja MoU, Capt Sunday Umoren stated this on Monday at the opening of a 3-days sensitization workshop for heads of Heads of Maritime Administrations in West and Central African Region.
The capacity building workshop was organized by Abuja MoU in collaboration with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in Lagos.
Speaking, Capt Umoren noted that there has been issues of lack of transparency reported against Port State Control Officers by ship masters, and that the Abuja MoU is working with the Maritime Anti-corruption Network (MACN) in addressing these allegations.
He however said that the Abuja MoU would be adopting the use of body cameras for Port State Control Officers as it is currently being operated by the Australian Maritime Authority.
According to him, in the past, physical and hard technologies were being deployed in auditing and inspecting ships and systems, but now soft and e-technologies are slowly gaining momentum and reducing human interaction.
With this, he said the world, including Port State Inspection needs to stay in tandem to match the trend.
“On the issue of transparency, we have been working with the Maritime Anti-corruption Network which clearly highlights integrity issues with Port State Control Officers.
The determination of such cases are usually based on the words of the masters against the Port State Control Officers”
“We are happy that there is an end in sight through the innovative application of existing technologies being tested by the Australian Maritime Authority”
“The technology as simple as a body cam, the type that is being used by police men for real time recording are being considered with the need to ensure that they are productive for the maritime world especially the tankers environment”
“The question now is, is this the way forward? We would wait until such is given an endorsement and the approval required before we latch on it” he said
Captain Umoren, disclosed that only 14 countries are presently conducting inspections in the region, and called for a Campaign for effective inspection regime with focus on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW).
He said detentions are not the best parameters to measure port state control efficiency.
The Abuja MoU is one of the 9 Regional MoUs and 1 national MoU established pursuant to IMO Resolution A.682(17) of 1991. The Organization operates under a Cooperative Agreement with the IMO and was established on 22nd October 1999 as an inter-governmental body comprising maritime administrations of countries abutting the Atlantic coast of Africa.
Meanwhile, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh at the capacity building workshop stated that the growth potential and high expectations of maritime stakeholders for the industry would only be realized through the development of a system of harmonized Port State Control inspection procedures for West and Central Africa.
Dr. Jamoh, who was represented by the Agency’s Executive Director, Operations, Mr. Shehu Ahmed, identified the importance of effective Port State Control systems to the efficient running of member states’ Maritime Administrations.
According to him, “As we all know, Port State Control provisions are featured in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provision under the duties and responsibilities of Flag states, Coastal states and Port states and it is also highlighted under enforcement in all major IMO and some ILO conventions.
“This function entails the enforcement of applicable conventions of the IMO and ILO that have been cascaded down to us as signatory states for domestication through our national laws.”
He added that: “It would interest you to know that NIMASA executes four legal instruments in keeping with our international obligations – The Merchant Shipping Act; the NIMASA Act; the Cabotage Act and the most recent being the SPOMO Act for the suppression of piracy and other maritime offences.”
While declaring NIMASA’s unflinching commitment to Abuja MoU in it’s focus for reduction of substandard ships, curbing marine pollution and ensuring good working conditions of crew members onboard ships within member states waters Jamoh urged 22 member countries of the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Abuja MoU) to improve on their financial contributions to the organisation.
Also speaking at the event was the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, who represented the Vice Chairman of Abuja MoU and Honourable Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, commended the organizers of the training/workshop for their commitment to developing the most critical resource of all, that being the human element.