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Merchant vessels in distress : FG designs reporting framework support

The Nigerian Government and Industry Working Group (NIWG) is set to launch a support project for merchant vessels in distress with a new Nigerian National Maritime Reporting Framework. 

Above disclosure was made by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said yesterday that the project is nearing completion.

Head, Corporate Communications NIMASA, Philip Kyanet in a statement said that the Joint Working Group (JWG) comprise of NIMASA, Ministry of Transport, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Ports Authority, Marine Police Interpol and the oil industry.

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According to the statement, while the oil industry is represented by Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF); the shipping industry is represented by International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (INTERCARGO), International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO) and the Nigerian Shipowners’ Association.

Kyanet explained that the working group was established in May 2020 to facilitate coordination between government and industry and align efforts to deter and to respond to incidents of piracy and armed robbery in Nigerian territorial waters and her Exclusive Economic Zone.

He said that the NIMASA/Industry Working Group (NIWG) was the first coordinated effort between industry and the Nigerian Government.

According to him, “The objective of the working group is to accelerate efforts to tackle maritime security threats by facilitating interaction between the stakeholders and pursuing projects through mutual collaboration.

“It is also tailored to enhance transparency between government and industry in addressing the shared goal of achieving the permanent prevention of piracy and armed robbery in the region.

The NIMASA’s Command, Control, Computer Communication and Information (C4i) Centre has been identified as a national focal point for coordinating the multi-agency response”, adding:

“These developments are a significant step forward in improving Nigeria’s response capabilities and potentially enhancing security for vessels operating in Nigerian Waters.”

Kyanet further explained that at a regulatory level, NIMASA was working directly with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in developing a National Maritime Security Strategy. He disclosed that Nigeria had formally endorsed industry’s Best Management Practices West Africa (BMP WA) guidance and, following the entry into force of Nigeria’s Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, 2019 (SPOMO Act), prosecutions are underway.

“The Nigerian Navy’s maritime security response activities, the conduct of two military exercises (Operation Calm Water and Operation Sanga Sung) by NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy in recent months had been successful in testing and demonstrating response capabilities.

“Importantly, considerable progress has also been made to advance the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure project, otherwise known as the Deep Blue Project (DBP).

“This is aimed at comprehensively addressing insecurity and criminality in Nigeria’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone. While COVID-19 has caused disruptions to this landmark project, delayed training required to deploy DBP assets Q4 2020/Q1 2021 has recommenced.

“It is agreed by the NIWG that progressing the DBP is a key priority, which will require continued support by industry and sustained resource from the Nigerian government,” Kyanet said.

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