The United States Coast Guard has expressed its dedication to supporting Nigeria in the implementation of the International Ships and Ports Security (ISPS) Facility Code, in accordance with internationally accepted best practices.
Leading a team from the US Coast Guard on a peer review mission in Nigeria, Lt. Cdr. Jonna L. Clouse emphasized this commitment during a productive visit to the headquarters of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Clouse highlighted the importance of ongoing collaboration with NIMASA to ensure that more ports and jetties in Nigeria adhere to the ISPS Code, thereby enhancing safety throughout the Nigerian maritime domain.
“We are in Nigeria to assess the level of compliance with the International Ships and Ports Security (ISPS) Facility Code. Our desire is to enhance cooperation between the Nigerian maritime sector and the United States Coast Guard. We will also offer our expertise to NIMASA in closing identified gaps. We hope to work with NIMASA and reduce or end the Conditions of Entry regime for Vessels from Nigeria to the United States”, she said.
Clouse expressed further appreciation to the NIMASA Management for their commendable efforts in collaborating with the USCG.
The Director General of NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh, acknowledged the ever-changing nature of maritime threats and patterns, and emphasized the valuable role of peer review partners in enhancing the necessary capacities for effective implementation of the ISPS Code.
Jamoh elaborated on the measures undertaken by NIMASA to ensure ISPS compliance in more than 90% of ports and jetties within the country. Additionally, he emphasized the importance of the United States reviewing the Conditions of Entry regime for vessels calling at certain ports in the United States.
According to him, “It is worthy of note that despite efforts taken by NIMASA in improving Port Security and ISPS Code implementation in Nigeria, the issue of Condition of Entry (COE) still hovers over vessels from Nigeria calling at Ports in the United States. For vessels leaving Nigeria to undergo stringent port controls before being granted access to US ports, it has adverse effect on the aggregate shipping economies of Nigeria. The delays lead to additional costs that strain an already present high freight cost within the Gulf of Guinea. This is adversely affecting Shipping in Nigeria
We have reviewed this decision taken by the USCG and proposed an action plan to enable the US Coastguard physically determine the compliance levels of these facilities in the Condition of Entry list. We at NIMASA are calling on the US Coast Guard to facilitate the removal of Nigeria from the Condition of Entry list”.
Jamoh further revealed NIMASA’s commitment to collaborating with the US Coast Guard team to address any existing deficiencies prior to the comprehensive audit scheduled for August.
As a quick reminder, NIMASA was designated as the authority responsible for overseeing the implementation of the ISPS Code in Nigeria back in 2013. The visit by the USCG is a crucial component of the evaluation procedure aimed at monitoring compliance levels and fostering enhanced cooperation through a peer review exercise.