The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has said none of the audited African Member States has implemented the agreed Corrective Action Plan (CAP) of the IMO Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS).
The observation was made at the opening ceremony of a three-day workshop for heads of maritime administrations in the West and Central African region that commenced on Monday in Lagos State.
The workshop is facilitated by the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Port State Control for the West and Central African Region and IMO.
IMSAS commenced as a voluntary scheme in 2006 and became a treaty obligation in January 2016. It aims to promote the consistent and effective implementation of applicable IMO instruments and to assist the member states to improve their capabilities whilst contributing to the enhancement of global and individual member states’ overall performance in compliance with the requirements of the instruments to which it is a party.
IMO Head of Africa Section, Subdivision for Maritime Development Technical Cooperation Division, William Azuh noted that while nearly 100 per cent of the maritime administrations in the region have been audited, not one of the audited African Member States had completed, terminated or effectively implemented the agreed Corrective Action Plan.
He listed the audited African Member States since the commencement of the audit scheme in January 2016 to include Cape Verde; Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire; Djibouti; Equatorial Guinea; Gabon; Ghana; Guinea; Kenya; Madagascar; Mauritania; Nigeria; Sao Tome and Principe; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Tanzania, Gambia; Sudan and Togo.
According to Azuh, all the audited Member States were provided with an Audit Final Report that reflects the agreed Corrective Action Plan to be effectively implemented after three to four years following the audit
“As a matter of fact and after the period of the follow-up audit, not one of the audited African Member States had completed, terminated/effectively implemented the agreed CAP.
“If there is no feedback from the audit, you would then wonder why your administrations were audited in the first place. IMO has been literally ‘begging’ the maritime administrations to report back to it on the corrective actions implemented or lack thereof, which were part of the audit recommendations. IMO is willing and able to assist these countries to implement those corrective actions, but the initiation would have to come from you,” he said.
Azuh further noted that the provision of regular updates of Comments on the Progress of the implementation of the Corrective Action Plan (CPICAP) to the IMO also recorded very low engagement/involvement of the member states. He noted that a CPICAP model form has been developed to assist member states to communicate with IMO.
Azuh also revealed that since the beginning of the mandatory phase of the audit, not a single training for auditors has been conducted in the African region, with the last being the one conducted in Togo in 2015 for 23 participants from nine African Member States.
According to the IMO representative, only three auditors among the 23 trained were nominated by their respective administrations.
He said this needs to be addressed by encouraging beneficiary member states to nominate auditors as that is the essence of the training, while also making case for women auditors given the maiden IMO International day for women in maritime to be held on May 18, 2022.
Speaking on the essence of the workshop, Azuh said it is aimed at bringing the current leadership of Maritime administrations in the region up to speed on their responsibilities under the port State Control regime from the perspective of IMO.
“There have been several changes in the leadership of the Maritime Administrations in the region, especially under the Abuja MoU membership. Port State Control is a critical element in trade facilitation and by extension the quality of shipping and shipping services in the region with direct implications or if you may, consequences to the national economies. Awareness at the very top of governance in the maritime administrations is therefore crucial,” he said.