From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
Nigeria will soon begin a second and international ship registry to attract higher tonnage from international patronage, while the existing closed registry will help in developing its cabotage capacity, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, has said.
Speaking in Lagos Tuesday during the Nigerian Ship Registry Interactive Forum with Ship Owners, Peterside explained that the anticipated international registry will help grow Nigerian fleet and enhance its role in international commercial trade.
He disclosed that Nigeria, with its closed registry, has 2,725 active vessels of various capacities and was last year rated second in Africa (next to Liberia which operates open registry) by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and 46th worldwide.
“As you are all well aware, Nigeria operates a closed ship registry. However, most renowned ship registries in the world such as the UK Ship Register, today maintain a second or international register to attract tonnage while using the closed register to develop indigenous capacity and for domestic trade, similar to our cabotage regime.
“We are therefore considering establishing a second or international register to help grow our fleet and input our footprints in international commercial trade.
Similarly, Peterside disclosed that the agency has acquired a software licence to commence the automation of the ship registry processes to quicken business processes. According to him, “our principal aim is to achieve online electronic registration, accept electronic copies of documents and issue electronic certificates.
“Our goal as a maritime safety administration is to create a world class ship registry that will be attractive to ship owners, with the aim of maintaining Nigeria’s influence in the evolving international commercial and regulatory environment for shipping.”
The process began with an audit of Nigerian vessels in 2018/19 to ensure compliance with the IMO Ship Identification Number Scheme, redesign and production of new ship registry certificates, automation of the ship registry, upgrade of the ship registry filing facility, review of ship registration guidelines and ISO 9001:2015 certification.
Meanwhile, the agency has unveiled new high-tech certificates for the various ship categories, including cabotage, to strengthen the image and integrity of the Nigerian certificate against counterfeiting.
Peterside noted that “counterfeiting of Ship Registry certificates renders the entire gamut of systems and processes designed to prevent the entry of unseaworthy and sub-standard ships into the flag a nullity.”
Therefore, “we are upgrading the Ship Registry Filing Facility to ensure effective document management and control. We are reviewing our ship registration requirements to ensure a harmonized process between survey and ship registry units, and to also align ourselves with international best practices.”
Also speaking, Chairman of the Ship Registry Committee, Mr. Emmanuel Ilori, urged NIMASA to set clear timelines for the administrative process of ship registration and put in place clear and precise change in flag instructions.