ISPS: FG’s axe dangles over non-compliant ports

Ahead of the expected arrival of operatives of the United States Coast Guard to ascertain the level of compliance of Nigeria’s seaports and related facilities with the International Ships and Ports Security (ISPS) Code, the Federal Government has said it is working out a framework of incentives for compliant ones and heavy sanctions for non-compliant facilities.

This visit of the operatives, which is second in the series, having visited earlier in April this year, which prompted a damning report on alleged poor security system at the seaport facilities, subsequently gave rise a 90-day ultimatum by the US Government to Nigeria to fix these security gaps of risk global sanctions. Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Federal Government’s designated agency for the enforcement of the ISPS Code in Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, who briefed newsmen in Lagos on efforts so far made to meet the deadline, hinted that many port facilities have actually met the requirements while some others have not.

The agency had as part of measures to determine the number, location and nature of operations of all port facilities and jetties in the country commenced a stocktaking of the nation’s coastal maritime assets. It was gathered that the audit will enable the agency capture and catalogue all port and berthing facilities as well as verify their ISPS Code compliance status.

The director general however disclosed that all the port facilities including those fingered in the US Coast Guard report that gave rise to the ultimatum are currently undergoing security assessments as a step towards preparing security plans that are ISPS Code compliant.

According to him, the agency has also concluded Verification Inspection Exercise (VIE) on all shore-based port facilities in the country, which report will form the basis for re-certification of these port facilities in line with the requirements of the code.

The NIMASA-boss asserted that port facilities deemed noncompliant will not only be re-certified but in extreme cases will attract added punitive actions. He said: “A critical success factor in the implementation programme will be the capacity and the will to enforce this implementation mandate by a regime of incentives and sancti ons”.

While assessing ISPS Code implementation under the Presidential Implementation Committee on Port Security and Safety (PICOMSS), he noted that compliance was an issue because the former designated agency lacked the capacity to strictly enforce its mandate having lacked the constitutional powers to do so.

“However with NIMASA duly established by law and possessing enforcement powers, it hopes to leverage this in ensuring that stakeholders and particularly the port facility owners and operators remained compliant”, the DG had insisted.

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