Lagos — The Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, has said the Agency’s regulatory and promotional activities have been a major economic stimulus for the country, especially in the last one year.
Dakuku stated this at the weekend in Lagos during a world press conference ahead of NIMASA’s Annual Corporate Dinner and Awards ceremony.
He said the Agency had symbolised change, declaring, “No organisation in the country currently typifies change more than NIMASA.”
The Director-General identified recent transformations in the country’s maritime administration that had been major economic drivers to include the Final Billing System for Freight Charges, Improved Maritime Safety, Security, and Domain Awareness, and the Tripartite Agreement by Maritime Stakeholders.
Other critical changes in the sector, according to Dakuku, are the renewed capacity building drive through implementation of a five-year cabotage cessation plan, and the rejigging of the Nigerian Ship Registry.
He said before Final Billing System introduced by his administration, it took between five and 10 years to reconcile bills in relation to the three per cent freight charge on vessels coming into the country. With this tardy system, such vessels were always on NIMASA’s books as owing or having bills to reconcile.
“But with the Final Billing System, we have put an end to double billing, over-billing, and protracted billing. The system ensures closure of all vessel billing transactions within two weeks after departure,” Dakuku stated, adding, “This has led to improved customer satisfaction.”
He said the country had equally made major strides in the drive for improved maritime domain awareness. “With the use of satellite surveillance technologies, in combination with intelligence systems, we are able to identify, with a consistent 365 days and a five-year profile, all vessels that visit our Exclusive Economic Zone.
We are further able to identify vessels that are believed to be engaging in suspicious activities and take appropriate actions,” he explained.
NIMASA has launched a five-year Cabotage cessation plan beginning 2021, aimed at ending the grant of Cabotage waivers and ensuring full implementation of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003, which came into force in 2004.
Dakuku said the new cabotage regime had started making impact. According to him, “There has been an increase in the number of wholly-owned Nigerian vessels on the Nigerian Cabotage register. The 2018 half year result showed that 125 vessels were registered, representing a 33 per cent increase when compared with the 94 registered in the corresponding period in 2017. Currently, there are more than 200 vessels captured in the Cabotage register.
“Also, about 68 per cent of vessels trading within the country’s maritime space are Nigerian-flagged.”