Recently, there was an interesting initiative aimed at ensuring synergy between agencies in the maritime industry in order to move it forward, by resolving conflicts arising from overlapping functions amicably.
This inter-agency co-operation has started to yield good fruits as helmsmen of agencies have, presumably met a number of times to identify and eliminate overlapping functions and other elements causing discord among various players Nothing can be more inspiring than hearing that Hadiza Bala-Usman of the NPA, Bashir Jamoh of NIMASA and Hassan Bello of the Shippers Council are embarking on synergy trip with the Moghalu of NIWA, and leadership of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron among others. What happened to the first move to bring all transport agencies less than one regulatory agency proposed as the Nigerian Transport Commission would have been avoided if there was understanding between all the agencies of transport. The bill for the proposed commission failed the first attempt, even when it had been passed into law by the National Assembly.
Because the agencies were working at cross purpose, the president could not assent to it as passed by the lawmakers. The bill is now before the president for the second time and there is now need to speak with one voice so as to convince the president that truly things have changed for the better in the industry .One agency must not use its influence to kill the bill this time.
Although, no mention had been made of the initiator of this noble move, we, at Business Monitor here by commend the protagonist of the move which is long overdue as the country, especially the stakeholders, will be better for it on the long run. The initiative if sustained will stop the current trend whereby the agencies are working across purposes.
A major aspect of the goals of such collaboration should include the removal of wrecks, some of which, may be critical, to safe shipping by the foreign vessels and local ferry/ boat operators under the ambit of the Nigerian Inland Waterway Authority (NIWA).
Another wonderful area of collaboration waiting to be exploited under the new move could be found, in the area of removing the NPA’s dilapidated floating dock at the Continental Shipyard, Apapa, and replacing it with the newly acquired, NIMASA’s floating dock, to enable the agency put the equipment to use; and attract significant
revenue, to government.
However, we have noticed a tilt in the collaboration which seemingly seeks to marginalize the Concept of Safe Anchorage Area (SAA) promoted by the Ocean Marine Solution (OMS). There are fears that the NPA, an original initiator, could destabilise the SAA, by using new found understanding with NIMASA, into battling the OMS, on new grounds. Some have expressed concern, that going for the OMS at this point, may be counter-productive, as the wonderful collaboration may become easily coloured or misinterpreted with vindictiveness, insincerity and self- serving.
Once again, while we comment the new wave of romance among the agencies it is important therefore, to advice that the fledgling collaboration should be encouraged and dispassionate, and to be goal oriented and observably patriotic in design.
What is more? If the call for the suspension of the SAA by the NPA, backed by the Minister of Transportation, has not dissuaded the foreign vessels operators from patronizing the SAA, what makes the current heads think an enhanced powerful coming together, standing to be misinterpreted as ‘parastatals conspiracy’ would?
Already, the impression was being registered, even if erroneously, that the hidden essence of this collaboration was essentially to give the NPA, what the authority failed to secure at the National Assembly.
The only reason why foreign vessels patronised the SAA, is because Nigerian waters are not totally safe or secure. No sane foreign vessels operators would acquire a state of the art ship, at humongous cost, and risk its being vandalized or its crew kidnapped in broad day light, because he wants to listen to highly placed fables or verbal directives.
Provide truly safe and secure shipping environment and overnight, the necessity for SAA would be eliminated, thus rendering the need redundant.
Until then, when the maritime heads please to concentrate their energy on issues truly productive, we want to hail them further.