The Nigerian Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) has assured the international community as well as all other stakeholders doing business on the Nigerian waters of their safety as well as that of their investments.
The Director General of NIMASA, Mr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi who made this known in a World Press Conference he addressed in Lagos last week stated that the agency, aware of the fact that safety of lives and properties were of significant prerequisite for the growth and investment of any society, had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian air Force to enhance water patrol and Aerial Surveillance of the nation’s Maritime domain.
Akpobolokemi who was represented at the briefing b y the Executive Director, maritime Safety and Shipping Development of the agency, Capt. Ezekiel Bala Agaba hinted that in an attempt to effectively cover the countries under the Regional Maritime Search and rescue Centre of eight countries, a robust maritime domain awareness and response system was required.
According to him,” we approached the relevant federal government authority and got approval to put in place a robust Maritime Domain Awareness. This led to the birth of the NIMASA Satellite Surveillance Centre”.
“Our desire is to provide a safety net for all those doing business within Nigerian waters. With the NIMASA Satellite Surveillance Centre, which was launched last month, the Agency is now able to respond to any distress call on Nigerian waters and even beyond”.
“The new 24-hour Satellite Surveillance equipment has the capacity to detect boats, ships and object of predefined cross-section floating on water. This includes any aircraft that ditches and remain on the surface during the satellite over-flight”.
The Director General disclosed that the new satellite surveillance centre was instrumental to the rescue of a Ghanaian flagged vessel hijacked by pirates off the coast of Ghana in June 2014.
He went on to say that the agency’s upgrading of its Global Maritime Distress safety System (GMDSS) in Lagos, Bonny and Oron and the Radar Installation in Escravos, Bonny and Takwa Bay in Lagos would complement the satellite facility and further boost the domain awareness response capability when fully operational.
On the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, he stressed that twenty-two ports facilities in the country were now compliant with the ISPS Code as was confirmed by the United States Coast Guard.
His words,” this is a remarkable improvement from nine certified port facilities since the last visit of the United States Coast Guard. The figure is expected to rise when the report of the ISPS Code Compliance team who visited the country last April is released”.
“The US Coast Guard has consistently assisted NIMASA with training of personnel and other logistics on the ISPS Code. NIMASA has embarked on another Verification Inspection Exercise (VIE) of port facilities to enforce compliance with the code”.
The NIMASA boss further pointed out that the agency’s Public Private Partnership which concessioned the supply, operation, management and maintenance of operational platforms and associated electronic surveillance systems to an indigenous Marine company, Messrs Global West Vessel Specialist Limited has made it possible for the agency to enforce maritime regulations.
He observed that the PPP project had also made it possible for the agency to provide suitable platforms to the relevant security agencies collaborating with it to fight piracy and other sundry security breeches on the nation’s water leading to a number of rescue operations as well as tracking interdiction and arrest of vessels engaged in criminal activities on the nation’s waters.
“Prior to the concession contract, the agency was practically constrained to enforce regulations and undertake any meaningful field operations as expected of a maritime administration. We have successfully reversed the trend as we now have complete patrol of our maritime domain with considerable capability to respond to maritime emergencies within a reasonable time frame”, Akpobolokemi said.