• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Agbakoba calls for unbundling of NIMASA for efficient maritime safety administration

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The Federal Government needs to unbundle the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) so as to achieve the desired safety and security in the nation’s maritime domain, says Olisa Agbakoba, a maritime lawyer, at a press briefing held recently in Lagos.

“We advocate for the unbundling of NIMASA because the agency has a lot of responsibilities in its mandate right now. We need to go back to the international standards, where there is a specialised maritime safety and security agency, which is not there yet,” he said.

Agbakoba, who was a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), said the government needed to reposition the maritime sector, which, according to him, could become Nigeria’s major revenue generator in the face of the prevailling fall in crude oil price.

Explaining further, he said: “NIMASA was first the National Maritime Authority (NMA), and then, it swallowed the Government Inspector of Shipping and they were also left with the responsibility of handling cabotage, shipping development, cargo allocations, safety and security.”

NIMASA took over the permanent representation of Nigeria at the International Seabed Authority, which was created by the United Nations (UN) for the common exploitation of the natural resources of the high seas, he said.

To him, the issue of cabotage enforcement is huge, thus the need to create a separate agency to handle that. He argued that the nation’s maritime safety and security issues were better handled when it was the responsibility of the Government Inspector of Shipping.

“Formerly, maritime safety and security issues were handled at 88 Marine Road Apapa, Lagos. They had the skills to protect our waters. All we needed was to assist them by creating a Coast Guard to patrol the waters, but NIMASA was given the mandate to do maritime safety and security. So, Government Inspector of Shipping died and NIMASA took it over. It hasn’t worked because they are dealing with far too many issues,” he said.