02 February 2014, Lagos – Some officials of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, have travelled to the Headquarters of the United States Coast Guard to inspect facilities that are connected to administration of port security.
Disclosing this to Vanguard in Abuja recently, Executive Director in charge of Safety and Security in NIMASA, Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba, said that the visit was reciprocal, which is meant to know how the United States government was implementing the guideline of the International Ship and Port Facility Security, ISPS, Code.
Agaba said that NIMASA’s officials will spend two days at the Headquarters of the Coast Guard agency before going to other states like Florida to inspect port facilities.
One of the Recognised Security Organisation told Vanguard that the visit was a continuation of the coast guard’s visit to Nigeria, adding that it is an exchange programme.
Recall that the United States Coast Guard during its visit to Nigeria declared that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, is on the right path to the successful implementation of the International Ships and Ports Facility Security, ISPS, Code in Nigeria.
The leader of the US Coast Guard team to Nigeria, Mr Tivo Romero, made the declaration at a meeting with members of the ISPS Code Implementation Committee in Nigeria on their last visit last month in Lagos.
Mr Romero, said that they visited six port facilities in the country during their two-week visit to Nigeria, saying that they have noticed tremendous improvement since the last visit to the country.
He commended NIMASA for the outreach to facilitate operators. In his words: “I must commend the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency for its efforts so far.
However, the United States Coast Guard will provide required technical assistance to ensure that infrastructural and legal instruments needed for effective implementation of the ISPS Code in Nigeria are put in place. I urge you all to see this project as a voyage which we have all embarked on, and that must be concluded.”
Romero dismissed media reports that claimed that the United States Government would embargo vessels from visiting Nigerian ports, noting that the US government is fully behind Nigeria as a strong business partner that requires desired partnership, a reason for which both countries would always continue to work together and to ensure adequate security in the maritime sector.
On his part, the Director General of NIMASA Mr Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, expressed gratitude for the support so far to ensure compliance in Nigeria.
The Director General, who was represented by the Executive Director, Cabotage and Shipping Development, Barrister Callistus Obi, noted that the implementation of the ISPS Code in Nigeria requires the support of all stakeholders.
He urged port and terminal operators to see NIMASA as partners whose ultimate goal is to make their facilities a better and safer place.
*Godwin Oritse – Vanguard