Abuja MoU: The Open And Close Of A Regime

Abuja MoU: The Open And Close Of A Regime
Martin Parfait Aimé Coussoud Mavoungou and Mrs. Mfon Nsoro

Leadership is sweet when a good leader calls the shot. And the followership never stops asking for more.

This seems to be the case at the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control for West and Central African Region (Abuja MoU). Mrs. Mfon Usoro, the Secretary General has been re-appointed to serve for another term of four years. She was first appointed in 2010.  This can be likened to a book that opens and closes.

In December,2014, Mrs. Mfon Usoro had served out her statutory first term of four years in office. But the 14- member countries of the MOU would not let her leave. They wanted her to stay having found her very useful.

Was she re-appointed immediately, she would have been spending another one year in a second of four years.

Her re-appointment letter signed by the Chairman of Abuja MoU, Martin Parfait Aime COUSSOUD-MAVOUNGOU,who is also the Minister in charge of the Merchant Marine of Republic of Congo,  dated July 14,2015, reads: “ Mrs. Mfon Ekong Usoro was appointed Secretary General of the Abuja MoU for a period of four(4) years, expiring in June 2015.

“Most of member states are satisfied with the work of Secretary General, and she has fulfilled her tasks with a particular zeal by making visible the actions of our memorandum. However, despite these efforts, member states were not able to organize the planned statutory sessions, the Committee and Bureau meetings.

“With the above, I have found it useful to extend the mandate of Secretary General for a period of four years in order not to compromise the situation of the organization. In case the Committee meeting holds before the expiring date, then the Committee will decide what to do,” the letter  which was also copied the Nigeria’s Minister of Transport, Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation(IMO) added.

Meanwhile, as the 2015 Abuja MoU annual report is being expected, the 2014 report has shown a significant reduction in the number of Port State Control(PSC) inspection when compared with the year 2013. A total of 2,916 PSC inspection were conducted in 2014 as against 3,211 inspections recorded the previous year. This decline was attributed to the effect of Ebola epidemic in some member states.

However, fourteen ships were detained for PSC infractions within this period under review, representing 17 percent increase in the number of detentions from the total of 12 detentions in 2013.

The statistics made available to MMS Plus equally showed that a total of 609 deficiencies were recorded in 2014 with 179 in 2013, representing 21 percent as against 16 percent in 2013. The categorization of the deficiencies showed that ship certificates and documentation infraction recorded 7.06 percent; SOLAS Convention 33.7 percent; MARPOL Convention 5.75 percent; STCW Convention 5.58 percent; Load line Convention 3.12 percent; ILO (MLC 2006) 5.09 percent. In summary, more deficiencies were recorded on ship’s certificates and documents, including CoCs, which stood at 77, showing 12.64 percent of the 609 deficiencies.

According to the report breakdown, SOLAS still ranks the highest with 33.7 percent of all recorded deficiencies. Safety navigation and fire safety account for  40 each, representing 6.57 percent; MARPOL 35, equivalent of 5.75 percent; Life-saving appliances 37, 6.08 percent and MLC 2006, 31 representing 5.1 percent.

Majority of the SOLAS deficiencies recorded in 2014 were in the areas of navigation, fire safety measures, life-saving appliances, emergency systems and communications respectively. Collectively, they constitute 25.1 percent of the deficiencies. The record further showed that apart from fire safety measures, safety of navigation and life-saving appliances recorded improvements down from 8.84 percent in 2013 to 6.57 percent in 2014 and 6.02 percent in 2013 to 6.57 in 2014 respectively.

Highest overall deficiencies were recorded in ship’s certificates and documents,which includes certificate of competency.

A further breakdown shows that among the 1,985 ships inspected in 2014, Bulk  carrier came top with 26 percent of the 2,916 inspections; general cargo/multi-purpose ships represents 21 percent; container ship 15 percent, while oil tanker was 14 percent.

The number of detentions however increased to14 from 12 in 2013. One Bulk carrier,one Container ship, one Chemical tanker, one Fish factory ship, two General cargo vessel, four Offshore supply and four Oil tankers were detained

Performance percentage of inspection by member countries for the year 2014 is 6.1 percent, a decrease from 7.3percent in 2013. But this is below the target of 15 percent for the region. The Maritime Administration of Congo, Gabon and Liberia were the only member administrations reportedly able to achieve the inspection target of 15 percent of ship calls in their respective ports in 2014, while Congo, Nigeria and Togo were the only administrations with actual numerical increase in PSC inspections over the previous year.

In report as Secretary General, Mrs. Usoro said,” It would appear that the region has gained positively from the various port state control inspection training courses attended by port state control officers in the last four years.”

Improved port state inspection practices have resulted in noticeable decrease in reported allegations of unlawful detention of ships and arbitrary fines for infractions.” She added.

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