Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has come out with a raft of new measures to boost the country's shipping tonnage.
The measures will also address concerns that majority of the vessels providing marine services to International Oil and gas Companies (IOCs) in their upstream and down stream operations are neither registered with NIMASA nor compliant with requirements under the Cabotage Act
Mr. Temisan Omatseye, director general of the agency who spoke at OTL Africa Downstream Conference in Lagos called on all the IOCs to immediately review their marine service contracting process in a manner that ensures that only fully compliant cabotage vessels are contracted to provide marine services.
He also directed all vessels already in the service of the oil companies but not duly registered as required by the Act to immediately do so within a reasonable time frame from now.
The NIMASA boss specifically noted that by the requirement of the Act, all Floating Production and Storage Offshore vessels (FPSOs), Drilling Rigs and Mobile Production Platforms operating in the Nigeria waters are all required to be registered with NIMASA by virtue of Section 44 of the NIMASA Act.
Omatseye reminded all IOCs operating FPSOs, Rigs and Platforms that are not registered that they are doing so in contravention of the extant law of the land advised them to without further delay, bring them in full compliance with the requirements of the Cabotage Act.
The Agency therefore made the following declarations, which he stated would immediately be followed by formal marine notices: all vessels currently engaged in cabotage trade in Nigeria but are not duly registered in the special register for cabotage vessels are in the main, contravening Section 22 of the Caboatge Act and are therefore liable on conviction to the sanctions stipulated in Section 35 of the Act, including ultimately, forfeiture of the vessel. Owners of such vessels are hereby strongly advised to take immediate steps to comply fully with all relevant provisions of the Act, as the Agency shall henceforth commerce full enforcement of its powers under the Act; shipowners, shipping companies and shipping agents are hereby advised that vessels involved in the importation of petroleum products into Nigeria should henceforth desist from discharging their cargo to non-Cabotage compliant vessels for onward delivery to various points and ports in Nigeria. Such ship to ship transfer contravenes sections 5 and 22 of the Cabotage Act, and is liable to the sanctions stipulated in Section 35 of the Act. All foreign vessels involved in the importation of petroleum products are hereby strongly advised to henceforth deal only with Cabotage compliant vessels. Similarly, all lighter vessels wishing to be engaged in such operations are advised to comply fully with all relevant provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003.
The NIMASA boss also outlined key new areas of focus for the achievement of increased maritime industry value, including a scheme for accelerated acquisition of Cabotage service trading assets, provision of critical maritime infrastructure to domesticate asset maintenance services, and mass production of human capital to meet manning demand and other technical skills.
The statement however said that in the event of unforeseen equipment breakdown during the period, management appeals for calm and understanding, as there would be quick response to fault complaints.