The Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control for West and Central African Region otherwise known as Abuja MoU has kick-started a two week Nigeria-Sierra Leone Port State Control Mentor-Mentee Programme in Lagos.
The Programme which aims to transfer technical know-how from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA on Port State Control to the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration, SLMA, was declared open by the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh. The Programme is expected to run from Tuesday 3rd October, 2023 to Friday 13th October, 2023.
Speaking in his opening remarks, the Secretary General of Abuja MOU, Capt. Sunday Umoren observed that Ports States complement the work of flag states and coastal states in eradicating the operation of substandard ships and ensuring safety, security and protection of the marine environment. He added that to ensure that this process is effective, MOUs should strive to achieve a harmonized Port State Control inspection regime.
According to Umoren, MOUs are encouraged to work together towards ensuring that the same standards of inspection are meted on foreign ships by Port State Control Officers in their local ports within the region. He further explained that harmonization means same performance at knowledge level, noting that this could only be achieved through effective capacity building.
He continued, “Building capacity eliminates dependency relationships and encourages the mentees to take ownership and be empowered to gain greater control over their future developments. To achieve this, it is expected that we facilitate the combined training of Port State Control Officers within the region, use a combined dataset and database system across our region such as the Abuja MOU Information Survey System, which we call AMISS, which we currently use, and the Global Integrated Ship Information System, GISIS of the International Maritime Organization, amongst others.
“However, for training to be effective, the MOU has chosen to adopt an approach that involves on-the-job mentorship and practice, which is basically the same as what is applied on merchant ships. On board merchant ships, it is no secret that cadets and other junior officers get the chance to learn from senior or more experienced officers on board. This helps to improve their confidence level and further provides some form of motivation and also gives them more exposure.
“The Mentor-Mentee Scheme seeks to provide technical support through on-the-job training and cross-pollination of ideas for the overall improvement of Port State Control inspections in the region, which is aimed towards eliminating substandard ships, ensuring safety, human treatment, and employment of seafarers, and also protecting marine environment and related maritime assets.
“I believe that it will be a mutually beneficial relationship for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration. Not only will it help both organizations build ties and offer networking opportunities for inspectors, it is also a learning and development opportunity for both entities.
“The best refresher course is in teaching because you can be challenged by a student. Teaching is the most effective form of learning because both the mentor and the mentee are in a learning session, and with this, the competencies of the experienced Port State Control officers here will not just remain at the same level, but will improve and build on it.”
He, however, assured that the Abuja MOU would work together with all the parties to ensure a post-training evaluation method in tracking and measuring the success of this program saying, “While I have no doubt that the ripple effects of this Mentor-Mentee Scheme will culminate into meeting our member organizations’ target of 15%, I encourage SLMA to progress beyond capacity development of its PSOs, to ratify the relevant conventions of the MOU, to ensure an effective, robust, and all-encompassing PSO regime.”
While appreciating the leadership of NIMASA for taking the lead by its willingness to allow other maritime administrations to stand on its shoulders, the Secretary General said, “Your uncommon goodwill is very appreciated at NIMASA. I must also appreciate the leadership of the Sierra Leonean Maritime Administration for the desire to build the capacity and skills of its Ports State Control Officers. These steps depict progressive and dynamic leadership, and it is a step towards the right direction, sir.”
On his part, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, while welcoming the guests to the human capacity building initiative between the agency and the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration, SLMA, described the initiative as a historic and courageous history of cooperation between both member states under the Abuja MOU, and the combination of several months of communication, planning, hard work, and commitment of all parties concerned.
Represented by the Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, NIMASA, Victor Ochei, Jamoh appreciated Captain Sunday Umoren and the Abuja MOU Secretariat for their efforts in coordinating and harmonizing the regional and foreign states’ controlled activities within the West African and Central African region. He posited that mentoring is a very old practice which involves a relational process, where experiences and values are passed from one person to another, or from one party to another, which he said could happen in different ways.
The Director General maintained that what is needed is the willingness of both parties to engage and believe in the aim of learning, growth, and development saying, “It is evident that both Nigerian Port State Control Officers and the Sierra Leone Port State Control Officers have had some formal and informal training on how to effectively and professionally conduct port safety inspections and surveys. But our experiences with this initiative, therefore, is a good avenue to relate and learn from each other”, he submitted.
Continuing, he said, “And not all Port State Control Officers in this Programme can show up with professionalism, and a short time set, aside from inspections of various categories of cargo vessels that are hauled out of their ports in the Harbour and Tincan Islands will be too long. Distinguished Personalities and Inspectors from Sierra Leone, I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration for considering us to be your mentor in this training initiative. We are being honoured to recognize your efforts in growing your inspection regime, and we are happy and willing to work with you to achieve this.
“Our Administration has made available immediate environment, bodywork platforms, and survey testing work tools to be used for surveys and inspection purposes. Let us make use of these provisions and build our capacity regionally. Please also make out time to know more about Nigerian Ports, and enjoy particularly Lagos, where our sister ports will be nestled.
“I want to further encourage you to visit the NIMASA Command and Control, Communications, Computer, and Intelligence at our C4I Center, the Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, RMRCC. On the demands of life, you will find these facilities beneficial to some of the residents within the Administration.
“I am aware that the established timeline for completing the Mentor Mentee program is two weeks. I urge you to put in all your effort and make maximum use of the time. I also implore you to foster a relationship that lasts beyond these two weeks. Only then will you be able to achieve a truly effective Mentor Mentee Programme.
He equally encouraged them to to discuss measures to enforce environmental issues in the Maritime Reserve, such as steam flow technology, aimed at enhancing the safety of ships, greenhouse gas emissions from ships, and also maritime security.
“These are important issues to dwell on that will advance sustainable trade within our region. As a region, we have an opportunity. We are firmly important to eliminating substandard ships in our waters. Let us work together and make our oceans safe, secure, and clean. With this, we are clearly on the right path. Let us keep the energy until we reach our final goal”, he admonished.
Also speaking, the Executive Director, Sierra Leone Maritime Administration, Mr. Paul Sobba Massaquoi thanked the Director General of NIMASA for accepting to his request to train his Port State Control Officers under the mentor-mentee scheme of the Abuja MOU while equally appreciating him for hosting himself and his team in Nigeria.
He said, “We are all aware that the mentor-mentee scheme of the Abuja MOU is designed for member states who are faced with challenges in effectively conducting broad state control inspections and related activities. This scheme provides member states with a platform to be mentored by other member states who are in a position to do so, especially Big Brother Nigeria.
“Today, to me, serves as a landmark in the history of the Abuja MOU as we are starting this scheme here in Lagos. The scheme itself presents a unique opportunity for my PSOs, especially those from the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration, to enhance their knowledge, skills, and professional network. The scheme will also provide the benefits to our PSOs and ultimately contribute to the improvement of maritime safety and security in Sierra Leone.
“The benefits are endless, not limited to networking opportunities, enhancing knowledge and skills, compliance with international standards, strengthening our maritime safety and security domain, regional cooperation, harmonizing regional cooperation, professional development and motivation, and many more. The scheme will also provide the opportunity for my PSOs to engage in professional development activities. The knowledge and skills that they will gain from this scheme will not only benefit their own prospects within our maritime industry, but will benefit the country as a whole.
“This will now serve as a motivation for our PSOs to excel in their duties and contribute to the overall improvement of the maritime safety and security in Sierra Leone. With these mentioned, I believe that there are many more PSOs that will benefit from this scheme.
“Without wasting much of our time, let me conclude again by thanking the Abuja MOU Secretariat for conducting and facilitating this scheme in becoming a reality, and also thanking the DG and Management of NIMASA for having us here in Lagos and to further call on our big brother, as we will always refer to Nigeria, to strengthen our collaboration between both institutions, which will pave the way for more bilateral engagement that will be for the benefit of both our institutions and our country.”
Photo 1: Mr. Paul Sobba Massaquoi, Executive Director, Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (left) receiving sourvenir from the representative of the Director General of NIMASA, Victor Ochei (right) during the visit to NIMASA Tuesday.
Photo 2: Mr. Paul Sobba Massaquoi, Executive Director, Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (left) handing over sourvenir to the representative of the Director General of NIMASA, Victor Ochei (right) during the visit to NIMASA Tuesday.
Photo 3: (L-R): Captain Sunday Umoren, Secretary General of Abuja MOU; Victor Ochei, Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, NIMASA and Mr. Paul Sobba Massaquoi, Executive Director of Sierra Leone Maritime Administration during the visit to NIMASA headquarters Tuesday.
Photo 4: Captain Sunday Umoren, Secretary General of Abuja MOU (left); Victor Ochei, Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, NIMASA (middle) and Mr. Paul Sobba Massaquoi, Executive Director of Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (right) during the visit to NIMASA headquarters Tuesday.
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