Thursday, May 19, 2022

NIMASA Amendment Act Underway, Gbajabiamila Assures 

NIMASA Bill
The director-general, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dr. Bashir Jamoh (standing) exchanging views with the chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Sen. Danjuma Goje, and chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education, and Administration, Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu during the public hearing at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, announced that the 9th Assembly has embarked on the amendment of the NIMASA Act 2007 and the Cabotage Act 2003 to improve the regulatory instrument in the Nigerian maritime sector to meet the current realities of the agency.

Gbajabiamila stated this while declaring open a two-day public hearing by the House Committee on Maritime Safety Education and Administration on the Merchant Shipping Act, Repeal and Enactment Bill 2021, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act repeal and Enactment Bill 2021, as well as the Coastal & Inland Cabotage Amendment Bill 2020.

The Speaker noted the need for appropriate regulation of the Nigerian maritime industry to be in tune with the realities of the times to ensure maximum utilisation of the nation’s maritime sector.

The chairman, House Committee on Maritime Safety Education and Administration, Hon. Linda Ikpeazu said the public hearing was to ensure that the decision of the Legislature regarding the bills are taken from an informed position premised on submissions from maritime stakeholders in the industry. 

“It is common knowledge that the maritime sector is a foundation and catalyst to the growth of nations that possess marine endowments. Nigerian, by any standard, is well endowed with ocean coastline, rivers and rich marine biodiversity.

“Not only are we focused on making the maritime sector a key alternative source of revenue and economic growth to our dwindling oil resources, but we are also poised to develop a prosperous blue economy for our nation, akin to similar success in the maritime nation around the world.”

In his submission, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi commended the National Assembly for embarking on a review of the laws governing the maritime sector. He noted that the new NIMASA bill will enhance the capacity of the agency to effectively regulate the Nigerian maritime industry in line with international best practices. 

Amaechi, who was represented by the director, legal service of the ministry, Paul Oteh, however, expressed reservations about the agency funding the Nigerian Maritime University Okerenkoko.

“The ministry does not support 12 per cent of NIMASA revenue going to the university. The proposal, in our view, also does not recognise the fact that the university, like other public institutions under the supervision of the NUC and the Federal Ministry of Education, is ordinarily entitled to public funds as may be appropriated by the National Assembly on an annual basis,” he said. 

The director-general of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh was represented by the agency’s executive director, maritime labour and cabotage services, Eng. Victor Ochei adopted the position of the minister as NIMASA’s. 

The Nigerian Navy, on its own, supported the amendment of the NIMASA Act, urging the National Assembly to look critically at the security component of the bill to ensure that the relationship between both agencies is enhanced.

Chief of Naval Staff, Awwal Gambo, who applauded the initiative, said it will improve NIMASA’s institutional capacity and enhance maritime administration in Nigeria.

Gambo, represented by Rear Admiral Solomon Agada, said: “The provision of a separate section on marine casualty and the proposed establishment of a Maritime Accident Investigation Unit, would improve compliance with extant regulations, such as the international regulations for preventing collision at sea (1972) and, thus, enhanced maritime safety.”

 The Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, WISTA, CIOTA Nigerian Welfare Board, National Association of Master Mariners, amongst others, made presentations supporting the proposed amendments to both acts of the National Assembly under consideration.  

Oluchi Okorafor
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