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Ethical conduct in vessel inspection to promote safety, and security in African waters – MACN

Ethical conduct in vessel inspection to promote safety, and security in African waters – MACN

Determined to tackle corruption around vessel inspection in the 22 West and Central African seaports, the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) has charged Port State Control (PSC) officers to conduct ship inspections with the highest level of professionalism, integrity, and transparency.

According to the anti-corruption network, ethical conduct would ensure the use of standard vessels in shipping, tackle corruption, and reduce costs for cargo owners.

These were the outcome of a two-day capacity-building session for PSC officers held by MACN in collaboration with the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control for West and Central African Region (Abuja MOU) in Lagos, with the theme, ‘Ethics and Integrity Leadership Training for Maritime Administration in West and Central Africa Region.’

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Speaking at the opening session, Ebrima Sillah, chairman of Abuja MoU, said the training programme is designed to help port control officers uphold ethical standards and improve public sector capacity to tackle corruption.

Sillah, who doubles as minister of Transport, Works, and Infrastructure in Gambia, said there is a need for collaboration between governments and private sector players to combat corruption in the maritime sector, especially in port state control operations.

Also speaking, Adeboyega Oyetola, vice chairman of Abuja MOU, said corruption and ethical practices in port state control undermine safety and security in shipping.

Oyetola, who doubles as minister of Marine and Blue Economy in Nigeria, commended MACN and Abuja MOU for building capacity that would drive transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct in the maritime business.
He said doing so would help to build a future where integrity and ethical practice drive growth in the maritime sector.

Earlier, Vivek Menon, associate director of Global Operations & Industry Engagement at MACN, said the essence of the training is to build capacity and ensure PSC officers in 22 African countries follow the standard operating procedure in conducting ship inspection.

According to him, the presence of multiple port officials creates room for ship crews to misunderstand regulations and in most cases, fail to meet regulations, giving rise to unethical behaviour.

He said MACN has had success in countries like Nigeria, where they have worked with the government to reduce corruption in vessel boarding by promoting joint ship inspection.

Jette Bjerrum, consul general of the Embassy of Denmark in Nigeria, said there is a need for a public-private partnership approach to improve the maritime sector in Nigeria.

She pointed out the need for ethical training, leadership training, and clear regulatory guidelines in the industry to help mitigate corruption.

She said by funding the training, the government of Denmark has shown interest in the Nigerian maritime sector which is also aimed at protecting its investments in Nigeria’s shipping industry.

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Sunday Umoren, secretary-general of Abuja MoU, said the training aligns with the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) guidance on ethics and anti-corruption.

“It covers the importance of ethical practices for port control officers, including accepting gifts, giving gifts, and reporting corruption. The IMO has released guidance on these topics, as well as a code of good practice for port control officers.

“It also covers the consequences of substandard ships, which include threats to life, the environment, livelihoods, and maritime facilities. Ethical and professional practices can help to mitigate these risks,” Umoren said.