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NIMASA’s new high-tech Ship Registry certificates to stem fraud

Determined to reduce growing number of counterfeiting of Ship Registry certificates for the nation’s shipping business, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has introduced new Nigerian Ship Registry certificates.

The new certificates, unveiled to ship owners in Lagos on Tuesday by Dakuku Peterside, director-general of NIMASA, will run concurrently with all the old certificates that are still valid.

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According to NIMASA, it would begin to issue the certificates that come with high levelled technical features that made it near impossible for quacks to fake, by end of first quarter of this year.

Speaking at the Nigerian Ship Registry interactive forum with ship owners held in Lagos on Tuesday, Peterside pointed out that counterfeiting certificate renders the entire gamut of systems and processes designed to prevent the entry of unseaworthy and sub-standard ships into the Nigerian flag, a nullity. “It raises the spectre of marine accidents, loss of lives, destruction of vital marine assets and the lowering of our national esteem in the comity of maritime nations,” he stated.

As a hedge against these risks, he said, the agency settled on the deployment of state-of-the-art technology for the printing of security certificates with unique anti-counterfeiting features.

“A Marine Notice will be issued at the appropriate time to notify all ship owners of the existence of the new certificates and commencement date, while the old certificates will be gradually phased out,” he said.

He further said NIMASA goal as a Maritime Safety Administration, was to create a world class Ship Registry which will be attractive to ship owners with the aim of maintaining the influence of Nigeria in evolving international commercial and regulatory environment for shipping.

According to him, Nigeria operates a Closed Registry with about 2,725 active vessels of various capacity.

“In 2019, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) ranked the Nigerian Ship Registry number two in Africa after Liberia (which operates an Open Registry) and 46 in the whole world,” he said.

He further stated that in 2018/19, Nigeria attracted into its register, two high index capacity vessels – “Egina FPSO” and “MT Ultimate”.

“We have no doubt that a lot more can be done to assist Nigerians in acquiring vessels and that was why we are making effort to disburse the Cabotage Vessels Finance Fund (CVFF). We are also partnering with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to drive capacity in the industry,” Peterside assured.

Emmanuel Ilori, chairman, Reform Implementation Committee, who gave an update on the reform of Nigerian Ship Registration Office, said that after its preliminary investigation, it was discovered that bureaucracy in ship registration processes resulted in delays and inefficiency.

According to Ilori,  there was need to explore the possibility of moving beyond the closed registry to offering alternative registry models in order to attend to different needs of ship owners.

He further pointed out that the present physical ship registry office did little to enhance the reputation of Nigerian flag.

He noted that the committee recommended for total automation of the entire registration processes, and urgent need to redesign as well as upgrade the physical office of Nigerian ship registry.

“We need to improve our capacity in the area of tonnage measures because that is how Nigeria can generate revenue. There is need to immediately publish all approved tariffs for ship registration,” he stated.

He called for the disbursement of the long awaited CVFF fund to qualify Nigerian shipping companies to benefit even as he urged NIMASA to initiate legislative processes towards the establishment of a secondary registry.

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