After ending year 2008 on a frosty note on account of controversy over the implementation of the global ban on single hull tankers, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Indigenous Ship owners Association of Nigeria (ISAN) may have agreed to cease hostilities.
This indication emerged after a recent meeting between the two bodies to resolve the face-off which has pitched ISAN members against the maritime regulatory agency.
A statement from NIMASA indicated that the duo have set up a joint technical committee to harmonize the modalities for the implementation of the contentious International Maritime Organization, IMO, Regulation 13G which borders on the phase-out of Single Hull Tankers.
The 10-man committee which comprises of five members each from NIMASA and ISAN was inaugurated shortly after the meeting with a mandate to resolve grey areas in the implementation of the IMO regulation and submit its report within six weeks.
At the meeting, Director General of NIMASA Dr. Ade Dosunmu restated NIMASA’s commitment to consultations in the implementation of local and international policies in the Nigerian maritime sector. According to him, this is to ensure that regulatory policies are effectively implemented on Nigerian waters, without necessarily jeopardizing the interest of indigenous operators.
“I believe that it is imperative for us to work together and critically examine the implications of the deadline date for implementing the phase – out of Single Hull tankers in our country and draw up a programme for its effective implementation”, pointed out.
Responding, the Chairman of ISAN, Chief Isaac Jolapamo commended NIMASA boss for scheduling the meeting which according to him, would go a long way in ensuring the protection of the interests of indigenous operators in the Nigerian maritime sector bearing in mind the stiff competition provided by foreign companies in Nigeria. The NIMASA had in line with Nigeria’s obligation under the MARPOL 73/78 Convention on the Phase-out of Single Hull Tankers issued a deadline of year 2010 as the final phase-out date.
The development prompted an attack from ISAN which 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.
The group had accused NIMASA of further frustrating them out of the Cabotage trade, because according to it, the 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.
The indigenous ship owners had urged NIMASA to employ the Condition Assessment Scheme System (CASS) to enable Nigerian-flagged Single Hull Tankers to operate till 2015 or in the alternative, observe the 25 years age limit as provided by IMO for vessels on foreign trade.
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, 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