From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
After several warnings, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has commenced clampdown on vessels that failed to comply with the provisions of the Cabotage Compliance Strategy.
The strategy was introduced last year to ease the implementation of the Cabotage Act 2003 in Nigeria.
According the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, the agency will no longer encourage the application of any form of waivers under the Cabotage Act, particularly from the oil firms operations, as such does not help the growth of the Nigerian maritime sector and economy at large.
“Our laws forbid foreign vessels operating in our territorial waters save for compliance with the Cabotage Act,” a statement from the Head of Corporate Communications, Mr. Isichei Osamgbi, quoted Peterside to say.
“There shall be no sacred cow when we commence clampdown on erring vessels.
“We want to increase the number of Nigerians who participate in the marine aspect of your business and we are working closely with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to have a joint categorization of vessels operating under the Cabotage Act to ensure the full implementation of the Act.”
To that end, a detention order for a Motor Tanker, MT NAVIGATOR CAPRICORN – a Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Carrier – has been approved for contravening sections of the Act.
The vessel was first boarded in October 2018 and all infractions of cabotage non-compliance were noted and communicated accordingly to the charterer/owners’ representatives with a 90-day grace period to comply.
The 90-day expired on January 31, 2019, even though the owners made undertaking to remedy the notable infractions when the vessel was issued a detention warning in October 2018, the agency added.
In the meantime, MT NAVIGATOR CAPRICORN has been moved to Lagos Anchorage to allow space for other LPG vessels to discharge at the NOJ Jetty, while NIMASA is currently engaging the owners and charterers on the need to comply with the laws of the land.
The agency further explained that its DG had led his team to meet with the Oil Producers Trade Sector (OPTS) in Lagos, where he urged industry players to draw up a five-year strategic plan for the cessation of application for carbotage waiver and also pursue the utilization of Nigeria-owned vessels for marine contracts.
The agency, via a Marine Notice, suspended considerations for applications of grant of waiver on manning for prescribed categories of officers in vessels engaged in cabotage trade.
Therefore, it no longer considers application for grant of waiver on manning requirements for vessels engaged in coastal trade with regards to 2nd officer, 2nd engineer, and 2nd mate, down to able seamen, ratings and stewards.
Special applications for captsins, chief engineers, chief officers and first mate in the absence of qualified Nigerians are considered on merit, but on the condition that such organization plans to train a Nigerian and put in place a transition plan to ensure that the Nigerian takes over the job within one year.
The whole essence of this, NIMASA explained, was to ensure that Nigerians are not deprived of the jobs due them on showing requisite qualifications for the job.