The year 2020 has unarguably come to be known as the Year of Pandemic. It was the year the COVID-19 pandemic caused havoc to global health, causing millions of deaths across the world and prompting the emplacement of preventive measures and protocols, including total lockdown of work places, businesses, social, political and sporting activities for long periods in most countries, Nigeria inclusive.
However, in the midst of the virtual shut down of normal human activities, some organizations were able to devise strategies for containing the ravages of the pandemic and its preventive protocols to carry on near-normal operations. In Nigeria, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) was one of such cases.
In the 24 months since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria, NIMASA, the apex regulatory agency in the Nigerian maritime industry, has made giant strides in the implementation of maritime Security, Safety and Shipping Development (the ‘Triple S Strategy’) designed by its executive management led by Dr. Bashir Jamoh.
Despite the disruptions occasioned by the global pandemic, the issue of maritime safety was central to the Agency’s activities, with a total of 510 Port State inspections carried out from 4,728 vessels that called at Nigerian ports. This was against the 726 inspections that were carried out the previous year, from the 5,035 ships that called.
The agency also integrated the use of technology into the process for verification of Certificates of Competency (CoC) as part of efforts to reduce human interface and improve on the Ease of Doing Business indices in the sector. This led to significant drop in manual verification. The number of manual verifications treated dropped from 4,112 in 2019 to 2,750 in 2020, showing a 33 per cent decrease. Total online verification was 9,723.
The formation of the Nigerian Maritime Industry Working Group (NIWG), with robust input from NIMASA, was another giant stride that set in motion a strong foundation for effective stakeholder involvement. NIWG comprises NIMASA, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Ports Authority, Marine Police, Interpol, stakeholders in the oil industry, as well as the Nigerian Ship-owners Association. It was established in May 2020 to facilitate coordination between government and industry, and align efforts to deter and respond to incidents of piracy and armed robbery in Nigerian territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone.
NIWG is the first coordinated effort between the maritime industry and the Nigerian Government (represented by member-agencies in NIWG) to address the issue of maritime security.
In 2020, the Agency issued 132 Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Certificates of Competency to Seafarers. With the need to enhance the safety of seafarers during the period of the COVID-19 lockdown central to its actions, NIMASA extended the period of validation of all seafarers’ certificates, as well as ship certificates to October 1, 2020, to enable those with expired certificates to keep their jobs pending renewal of their certificates.
The Agency was also one of the first Maritime Administrations to designate seafarers as critical workers amid the pandemic, which enabled ease of movement and ensured their safety.
In 2021, the security component of the Triple “S” strategy took centre stage with the official launch of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, otherwise known as the Deep Blue Project, by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 10, 2021.
The deployment of assets under the project resulted in a reduction in piracy and other maritime crimes (hijackings, kidnappings, theft), as evidenced by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reports this year, which showed marked drops in reported cases.
NIMASA also got engaged in the Floating Dock Project, in partnership with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). This is a multi-million dollar floating dock that NIMASA bought, which could not be put to immediate use due to lack of appropriate location. It is warehoused at the Navy’s dockyard pending deployment.
An agreement with NPA will see NIMASA using the former’s Continental Shipyard, which would serve as a functional location for what is expected to be a sustainable and profitable venture.
The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) recently issued a Certificate of Compliance for an Outline Business Case (OBC) for the operation of the Modular Floating Dockyard’s management. The contract is for its operation, maintenance, and transfer under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) and in compliance with the ICRC Act 2005 and the National Policy on Public Private Partnership.
The Honorable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, recently flagged off the National Wreck Removal exercise in Lagos with arrangements concluded for the recycling of wrecks and derelicts that would be recovered during the exercise.
This would be done in partnership with the Bayelsa State Government and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), which already has a foundry in Lagos for wrecks recycling, with the ultimate aim of creating wealth from waste while providing jobs for Nigerians.
The NIMASA’s Triple S strategy, a brainchild of the Jamoh-led management, is working, and the effect is being felt across the maritime industry, regardless of the constraints imposed by the pandemic saga of the last two years.
Dr. Basir Jamoh’s choice as the Public Service Personality of the Year by the Top10 Magazine was in recognition of the milestone achievements by NIMASA under his leadership within a short time.
Bashir Jamoh is a Ph.D. holder from the University of Port Harcourt, specializing in Logistics and Transport Management with over 32 years of professional and technocratic experience in the transportation and maritime sectors of the Nigerian economy. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Management.
This seasoned administrator and maritime expert was appointed as the Director General & Chief Executive Officer of NIMASA at the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak in Nigeria in March, 2020. He is also the current President of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIoTA) and member/ fellow of many Nigerian and International professional organizations.
He is a recipient of Distinguished Merit Award for exemplary leadership achievements in Maritime Education in Nigeria, among other awards.
He has organised and facilitated leadership training and manpower development programmes in several countries including U.K., U.S.A., U.A.E., South Africa, Brazil, Malaysia and Sweden among others.