By Samson Echenim
Emmanuel Ilori, chairman of the Ship Registry Committee, has urged the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to set clear timelines for the administrative process of ship registration and put in place precise change in flag instructions.
Ilori said this during a meeting with ship owners, which was facilitated by NIMASA, recently.
This is as Dakuku Peterside, director-general of NIMASA, at the meeting, says the agency has concluded plans to set up an automated ship registration process through online and electronic procedure, as part of plans to have a world-class ship registry that will enhance the ease of doing business initiative in the maritime sector.
advised the agency to ensure that qualified tonnage measures were employed to serve in the safety department.
At the meeting with ship owners, Ilori commended NIMASA’s drive to enshrine full automation of all ship registration processes, revealing that it is one of the recommendations of the ship registry review committee.
The high-point of the event was the unveiling of the new high-tech ship registration certificates, which comes in various categories namely: Certificate of Nigeria Registry, Certificate of Nigeria Registry (provisional), Nigeria Certificate of Registry (Fishing Vessel) and Nigeria Certificate of Registry (Fishing Vessel Provisional). Others are Nigeria Certificate of Registry (Bare Boar Charter Vessel) and Certificate of Nigeria Ship Registry (Cabotage).
Dakuku, however, told the maritime stakeholders that the agency had acquired software licence for the automation of the Nigerian Ship Registry, which is rated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as the second largest in Africa, by tonnage, after Liberia, and 46th in the world. He said automation was the only way to boost the worth of the registry and quicken business processes.
“Our principal aim is to achieve online electronic registration, accept electronic copies of documents and issue electronic certificates. Our goal as a maritime safety administration is to create a world class ship registry, which will be attractive to shipowners with the aim of maintaining the influence of Nigeria in evolving international commercial and regulatory environment for shipping,” Dakuku said.
The NIMASA boss disclosed that in 2018 and 2019, the Nigerian registry attracted two high index capacity vessels – Egina FPSO and MT Ultimate. He said NIMASA was confident that a lot more could be done to assist Nigerians in acquiring vessels, hence its intensified effort to ensure the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF). He stated that the Agency was in partnership with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to drive capacity in the maritime industry.
Dakuku also highlighted the effort the Agency had made to secure an internationally competitive ship registry for the country, which include auditing the register of Nigerian vessels, redesigning and producing new ship registry certificates, and automation of the ship registry. Others are upgrade of the ship registry filing facility, review of ship registration guidelines, and ISO 9001: 2015 Certification.
Dakuku noted that some of the biggest ship registries in the world, such as the UK Ship Register, currently maintained a second or international register to attract tonnage, while using the closed register to develop indigenous capacity. To that end, he said the Agency was considering establishing a second register to help grow Nigerian fleet and enhance the country’s role in international commercial trade.
The DG called on stakeholders to assist the agency’s new computerisation initiative.
“Our esteemed stakeholders, whilst keeping our eyes firmly fixed on the objective of building a world class ship registry, we hope to rely on your guidance, experience, industry know-how and cooperation to endow the desperately needed credence and international respect for the Nigerian Flag,” he stated.
In his presentation on background and development of ship registration, Mina Oforiokuma, a governing council member of the NCDMB, noted that technically, Nigeria’s registry was the largest in Africa.
Oforiokuma said this was based on the fact that Liberia operated an open registry, domiciled in the United States of America, adding that most of the vessels registered in Nigeria trade in Africa.