David Adekunle, Lagos.
As Africa continues to consider strategies for improving the efficiency of shipping in the continent, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA has suggested the introduction of designated ports to handle particular cargoes.
Director- General of the agency, Dakuku Peterside made the call at the four-day Oil Trading and Logistics Expo (OTL 2019) held in Lagos.
The forum, a veritable platform for the recognition of key stakeholders who have played significant roles in the advancement of the maritime sector, saw NIMASA picking an award for its contributions to the growth of shipping, which has helped the development of the downstream sector.
The annual OTL Africa Downstream Week, which is widely acknowledged as Africa’s biggest platform for downstream oil and gas businesses, brought together experts and stakeholders in the oil and gas as well as maritime sectors from across the continent and beyond to discuss the way forward for the shipping industry.
Dakuku identified measures that could help to improve efficiency and service delivery in the maritime sector. Represented by NIMASA’s Assistant Director, Surveillance, Captain David Oboma, the Director-General stated, “In line with global best practices, there are several measures that we should give serious consideration if we are to improve upon the efficiency of our industry. Firstly, we must reduce vessel turnaround times at our ports and terminals to minimise logjams, which have a knock-on negative effect on the entire system chain.
“The introduction of dedicated ports to handle specific cargoes, as obtains in world leading ports, would also greatly improve on our service delivery and efficiency.”
The NIMASA Director General who spoke during a session with the theme, Ship to Shore and Efficiency of Shipping Petroleum and Crude Oil Cargo, also said, “Improving upon the draft capacity by dredging our existing ports to widen the scope of vessels which can berth would help to eradicate the need for Ship-to-Ship transfers at sea.
“However, in striving for efficiency, we must not forget safety as a key consideration in shore to ship operations,” he said.
Speaking at the session, Mr. Aminu Umar bemoaned the amount of bureaucracy that continued to hamper the ease of doing business in Nigeria’s territorial waters.
He identified insecurity as a persistent menace to the maritime sector as it meant high cost of doing business in Nigeria.
Onyung lamented the absence of Nigerian-owned vessels conducting business within Nigerian waters. He said there was an urgent need to empower Nigerians to own vessels.
Industry experts used the opportunity to push for fully owned Nigerian vessels to be given the chance to lift crude oil, saying it would be a big boost to indigenous shipping and job creation.
The theme for this year, the 13th edition of the conference, was “Achieving Downstream Competitiveness through Growth, Innovation, and Technology.”
Those in attendance at the event includes: maritime law expert, Mr. Emeka Akabogu, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, who was represented by Director of Operations, Naval Headquarters, Rear Admiral Ibikunle Olaiya; President, Ship owners’ Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Dr. McGeorge Onyung; President of Nigeria Ship-Owners Association (NISA) and CEO, Sea Transport Services Nigeria Limited, Mr Aminu Umar; and Group General Manager, Shipping, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mrs. Aisha Ahmadu Katagum.