The relationship between Indigenous Ship Owners Association (ISAN) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) May be heading for the rocks following disagreement over the implementation of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) directive on single hull tankers.
The IMO had on January 1, 2005 given member- nations a 15- year grace period to phase out the use of single hull oil tankers following the loss of the 26-year-old single-hull tanker MT Prestige off the Spanish coast in 2002.
But the directive also allows for regional differences. “A flag State may permit its ships to sail for a longer time, but port States may then refuse those ships access to their ports”, the global maritime regulatory body had said in 2005 ahead of the coming into force of the directive in 2015. But, NIMASA had since November, 2008 notified indigenous ship owners that it would start implementation as from January 1, 2009; a clear six years before the IMO’s expiry date. It says that come January, it will no longer allow single hull tankers to operate on Nigerian waters by refusing to register them.
But, viewed as a calculated attempt to chase them out of business, ISAN, which is the umbrella body for all indigenous ship owning interests in Nigeria, is already calling on relevant bodies to call NIMASA to order.
According to a statement that was signed by it chairman, Chief Isaac Jolapamo, ISAN raised alarm that if implemented in January, NIMASA will be sending about 95 per cent of the tankers that are currently engaged in Cabotage or coastal trade in Nigeria out of business.
The group lampooned NIMASA for insisting on banning single hull tankers in Nigeria by 2009, when such tankers are still in use in other parts of Africa as well as Asia and some parts of Europe.
“One therefore finds it difficult to understand why NIMASA, whose major responsibility is to pursue the development of shipping in Nigeria and implement policies and programmes that will facilitate the growth of local capacity in vessel ownership….”, the statement read.
According to the ship owners what NIMASA is doing is to further frustrate them out of the Cabotage trade as financial institutions with which they were having business relationships have started to have double minds and are becoming anxious about the funds which are already tied down in many shipping-related transactions.