Maritime Workers Call For Caution As NIMASA Begins Boat Registration    

Even as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has commenced registration of commercial and private boats running on Nigerian waters, the Lagos Commercial Boats District of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has called for caution.  NIMASA last week announced that hence forth, all boat owners and operators using outboard motors of 200 horse powers (hp) must register with the agency. Shipping Position Daily correspondent also learnt that the move by NIMASA is because most pirates and sea robbers make use of 200hp boats because they are faster. Even though the union expressed total support for the registration exercise by NIMASA, it says that this must not affect its members who are going about their legitimate business. Speaking with Shipping Position Daily in Lagos yesterday, Secretary of the Lagos Commercial Boats District of MWUN, Comrade Owolabi Omotayo noted that the union members are law abiding and are in total support of the move by NIMASA. He also told our correspondent that the plan by NIMASA to register boats has been in the pipeline for some time. He said that the information given to the operators is that the exercise would not attract any fee. He also harped on the need for NIMASA to call a stakeholders’ meeting to sensitize boat operators on the planned registration. Comrade Owolabi stated that "they have been advertising it but at least we need to have a stakeholders meeting on it in order to have a good rapport with NIMASA on the issue. It is an idea that is supported and which the union would also support because we are partners in progress" "When they talk about registration of boats, I don't think the idea is to generate money, it is about gathering data since the pirates use these boats, it falls within NIMASA jurisdiction to regulate it" "As time goes on, the union would examine properly if it would affect our members in carrying out their legitimate business, this is why the union was established, to protect the interest of our members, because you cannot say that armed robbers are using buses so people should not use bus for private or commercial purposes again, only that you have to take certain measures to protect people from these hoodlums" "The matter has been on for quite a long time, they said they want to register engines of 200hp upwards due to sea piracy, this is the type of engines that sea pirates and robbers use" He said Comrade Owolabi noted that 200hp outboard engines are mostly used by pirates around Bayelsa creeks and Port Harcourt. He said, "the boats move faster and this is why criminals use it and NIMASA needs to regulate them" Recall that, while speaking at a stakeholders’ forum in Lagos last weekend, NIMASA Executive Director of Operations, Engr. Rotimi Fashakin warned that failure of any operator to register boats of 200hp "will lead to the boats being impounded and defaulters prosecuted".