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By NBF News
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STAKEHOLDERS  in the shipping and maritime sectors  have called on President Goodluck Jonathan to appoint professionals in all the departments of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, pointing out that the organization has become more political than a body of professionals.

In clear terms, the NIMASA Act of 2007 which saw the creation of the agency enshrines some of the functions of NIMASA to include regulation of shipping and maritime business, implementation of the International Shipping and Ports Facility Security (ISPS) code, certification of seafarers and regulation of dockworkers, registration of shipping companies among others.

At the last count, NIMASA is saddled with about 23 functions in the maritime and shipping business.  Apart from the task of performing 6 regulatory roles, the organization also shoulders the burden of discharging another 17 functions as contained in page 9 of a paper entitled 'Regulatory Role on Statutory Certification' presented by NIMASA Acting Director, Engineer Richard Owolabi who stood in for Ziakede Akpobolokemi at a seminar organized by the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping and American Bureau of Shipping in Lagos.

The poser which has become a source of worry technocrats and experts saying that  'How do you expect an organization to perform to expectation when it is encumbered with diverse, numerous and at times conflicting responsibilities'?

Speaking to Vanguard on the  efficient service delivery facing  NIMASA, the Head of Shipping and Maritime of Fidelity Bank Plc, Apapa, Idigo Edward pointed out that the agency was more of a political organization than professional.

He said 'This trend has a way of affecting service delivery. Apart from this, the organization is challenged by management instability and this result in policy inconsistency.

|'In the past three years for example, the management has had 3 Director Generals.'

Edward rued at a brainstorming session of stakeholders that the agency has not lived up to the task of making the ISPS Code a functional document.

The ISPS code is a code of security for a ship-laden cargo within the port. 'The ISPS code is still not functional and effective because every now and again you hear of piracy here and there.'

He added that the organization would meet its target of efficiency if the various offices were professionalized.

Reacting on evil of Piracy, Engineer Waddel Torru, the Managing Director of Riverman Nigeria Limited, a firm of marine consultants, naval architects and surveyors, urged NIMASA to address the issue which had become a bone in the throat of maritime business.

'The issue of piracy is a disturbing one. It has reaped us of our hard-earned money. He recalled that 'I had a contract to clear some goods for Adax Petroleum and anytime the vessel gets to the fair way buoy, it is normally attacked by pirates.

Even after I have paid the inland waterway marine police N300, 000 and putting armed police on ground, the vessel is still attacked by pirates.'

Torru also decried the bureaucratic red-tape usually encountered in the bid to get a waiver from NIMASA. He said he had been pursuing a waiver for more than 2 months and had not got it.

'I have been pursuing a waiver for about 2 months now and up till this time I have not seen the waiver.'  he stated.

He enjoined the agency to look into the unnecessary delays usually experienced in other to get waiver. He also urged that all the extant laws guiding NIMASA as a regulatory body should be reviewed.

On the issue of frequent change of management in NIMASA, the Executive General Manager of Total E&P Nigeria Limited, Port Harcourt,  Mr. Adebisi Otukoya said that the trend usually result in lack of continuity and policy  somersault.

He urged President Jonathan to evolve a strategy to deal with frequent change of management in the organization.

Otukoya opined  that NIMASA can function well only when there is clear definition of its role towards the growth of the maritime sector.

He identified the major challenges of the organization as overlapping of functions or responsibilities, lack of skilled manpower and  management ineptitude.