PFSON calls for synergy in tackling maritime security

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The Port Facility Security Officers Forum of Nigeria (PFSO) has called greater synergy among all the government agencies in running the command and control centre.

The National Chairman of the forum, Anataku Subaru who made this call at the National Conference of the PFSON in Apapa Lagos yesterday said that without synergy and collaboration among the agencies, the nation cannot move forward in its quest for a strong maritime security.

He noted that this would be so because the Navy would be doing its own thing, the marine police would be acting on its own same with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) thereby exposing the maritime environment to culpable threat.

According to him, there is a command and control centre in Bar Beach administered by the NSA’s office. This control centre is a beautiful one because you can stay there and monitor the vessels but why is it restricted to the NSA’s office alone? It is supposed to be a command and control centre where you have NSA, Marine Police, Navy, Immigration, Customs, NPA, seated there with a senior head that cam immediately react to situations in the field because he can see what is happening there.

“A vessel under siege will find it very difficult to even report because they are under a serious threat. You have seen it, all you need to do is, already you have the Navy there, you direct them to attend to the vessel and know what is going on there and you will see, it will give confidence to the vessels on our waters”.

The National Chairman observed that where there is synergy, the job would be simple and easier and everybody would act immediately upon threats to maritime security.

“NIMASA has it, right? NPA has one, that is what I am saying, that there must be synergy. When you are doing it alone, the possibility of being sentimental will be there, the possibility of you seeing it in a selfish manner is there after all, this is not my area. But if it is done holistically, we are all involved, he added.

He further called for the registration and categorization of boats operating on the nation’s waterways by the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) adding that once they were numbered and flagged, it would be easy to monitor and control their activities on the water.

He continued,”In one of the ports over there, these fishing trawlers and canoes have contact with the security agencies, they give them stipends and they (boat operators) give them information so you have zero attack on the vessels there. But when they are working at variance, it is mot very good”.

Speaking on the theme of the conference,”ISPS Code Implementation in Nigeria: A Catalyst for Ease of Doing Business in the Ports”, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside noted that apart from piracy and armed robbery, the world was now faced with a global challenge of terrorism which posses real danger to the maritime industry.

Represented by Mr. Adebayo Olatoke, the Director General whose agency is the Designated Authority for the ISPS Code, maintained that the main aim of the ISPS Code was to serve as preventive and not curative saying that if all efforts were geared towards making the ports environment unattractive to criminals, there will be less possibility of threats.

“But that does not mean the threats will not come, it is a must that we put preventive action in place instead of think about curative”, he said.

On his part, the Officer in charge of the Customs Joint Examinations Centre, Assistant Comptroller Idris Oladiran Yahaya stated that before the presidential directive on May 18, 2017 in respect of the Ease of Doing Business, the Nigeria Customs Service had been doing a lot to make sure that things worked well in the clearing procedure.

Yahaya added that Customs in order to ensure that trade facilitation was not hampered, introduced the e-manifest, e-bill lading, e-payment among other initiatives .

“Then, we introduced the ASYCUDA and later on the ASYCUDA++, that is part of the area where we have all this e-payment, e-bill lading and a number of things. So, with that, instead of doing it manually, we started ASYCUDA in order to fast track the jobs.

“Thereafter, we moved to NICIS-Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System whereby all agencies in the ports like SON, NAFDAC, Police, NESREA will all be able to view customs NICIS, we call it Single Window”, he said.

He however said that the Ease of Doing Business starts with the importers as it was their duty to open Form M from the bank, get their Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) as well as to make sure that al the documents were properly deposited to the customs system adding that any infraction in any of the required documents, may affect the smooth clearance of such good.

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