By Kenneth Jukpor
As part efforts to enhance the Nigerian ship registry via elimination of counterfeit ship registration certificates, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has unveiled new high technology security certificates.
The Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside showcased these certificates today at an interactive forum with ship owners on the Nigerian Ship Registry, even as he assured that the agency has set its sight on achieving online ship registration process in the country.
Although the takeoff time for the new certificates hasn’t been specified, there would be five years implementation period for the new certificates, while the agency also intends to write the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for its introduction on foreign ships.
While the cutting edge certificates have over seventeen covert and overt security features, they are uniquely designed in varying backgrounds including red, pink, orange, among others, to distinguish Cabotage bare boat charter vessels from fishing vessels, Cabotage wholly Nigerian vessels, among others.
Dr. Dakuku also revealed that NIMASA has acquired a software license to commence the automation of the Ship Registry processes as automation is the only way business processes can be quickened.
According to him, the agency’s 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 which will be attractive to shipowners with the aim of maintaining the influence of Nigeria in evolving international commercial and regulatory environment for shipping,” Dakuku said.
Despite operating a closed registry, Dakuku noted that Nigeria’s ship registry had about two thousand, seven hundred and twenty-five active vessels of various capacity and currently ranks second ship registry in Africa, and 46th in the globe, according to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
Noting that renowned ship registries in the world such as the UK Ship Register, maintain a second or international register to attract tonnage whilst using the closed register to develop indigenous capacity, the NIMASA Director General revealed that the agency was considering establishing a second or international register to help grow Nigerian fleet and enhance the country’s role in international commercial trade.
He added that the ongoing efforts to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) and NIMASA’s partnership with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) would also enhance the capacity of Nigerian ship registry.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mina Oforiokuma, a member of the Governing Council of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), stated that the economic advantage of an efficient ship registry was that it could help ship financing.
While presenting a paper on “Background and Development of Ship Registration”, he commended the efforts of NIMASA in transforming the nation’s ship registry and stressed that there was still a lot to do in order to build the technical integrity and acceptability of the Nigerian ship registry.
“You don’t have to put down 50 percent of the fund needed acquire a ship before you buy the ship. With 10 percent to 15 percent, you can get finance from several sources across the world. However, Nigeria needs an efficient ship registry to do this”, Oforiokuma said.
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of the Ship Registry Committee, Engr. Emmanuel Ilori urged NIMASA to set clear timelines for the administrative process of ship registration and put in place clear and precise changes in flag instructions.
Ilori pointed out the bureaucracy of the Nigerian ship registry process, absence of basic working tools like computers at the NIMASA ship registry office, duplication of charges, among others as some of the issues observed during the survey conducted by his committee.
Ilori advised the agency to ensure that qualified tonnage measures are employed to serve in the safety department and commended the agency’s drive to enshrine full automation of all ship registration processes, revealing that it was one of the recommendations of the Ship Registry review committee.