President of Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engineer Greg Ogbeifun, has revealed that it is now very challenging for ship owners to take their vessels outside the country for repair, urging the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to support development of existing ship repair yards and even build new ones. This is even as he revealed that there are now 1,227 vessels owned by Nigerians.
Ogbeifun made this revelation at a maritime investors and shipowners forum in Lagos recently. He also stressed the need for NIMASA vessel surveyors to always refer to the head office when they are presented with excuses for lack of ship registration papers, instead of being in a hurry to seize vessels.
“It is bad that surveyors are always in a hurry to seize vessels. A situation where a surveyor is checking a vessel and the vessel has no papers, but had already started the process of obtaining or renewing the papers and all the survey says is ‘oh, I am going to detain the vessel’ is bad.
“Surveyors should have a feedback mechanism with head office while in enforcement exercise,” Ogbeifun said. At the forum, owners of stevedoring companies and dockworkers complained that jetties do not allow appointed stevedoring firms to work in their ports.
They pointed out that this can be an avenue to bring in illicit cargo. During discussions on capacity of surveyors from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the ship owners shared different opinions.
While some said the surveyors were of international standards in operations, others said there was severe knowledge and operational gap between the agency’s surveyors and those around the world. They therefore recommended further and continuous training for the surveyors.
A ship owner, Emeka Ndu noted that the way the surveyors approach processes of registration and certification takes a lot of time.
“Usually, after you have submitted necessary documents, they would say the DG has not minute it down. We must run regulatory roles as with global standard. Only NIMASA surveyors do check on vessels, where in other climes, surveyors from classification societies can be accepted,” he noted