Posted by thephctelegraph on
The National Maritime Authority (NMA) may have started to mend the crack it created in its relationship with Nigerian ship-owners....
The National Maritime Authority (NMA) may have started to mend the crack it created in its relationship with Nigerian ship-owners few weeks ago when it suspended nine of their cabotage vessels from the Nigerian waters.
In what looked like a rethink, the authority lifted the suspension on the vessels, which it once said lacked the pre-requisites to operate on the Nigerian waters.
The authority gave reasons for its latest action, saying the vessels were again visited by a team of is surveyors who now certified the vessels to be seaworthy.
Although it did not state when the surveyors carried out inspection on the vessels, it said the owners were found to have substantially complied to safety requirement.
"Following visits by the NMA surveyors to the recently suspended vessels, their owners were found to have substantially complied. The suspension is therefore lifted and the vessels released. NMA remains committed to safe, secure, clean oceans and resolved not to compromise standards," said one of authoritative source at the authority over the weekend.
But other industry sources said the suspension came after a dialogue initiated by the director-general of the authority last Thursday with Chief Isaac Jolapamo, the president of the indigenous ship-owners association.
"The director-general called Chief Jolapamo for a meeting on Thursday. He attended the meeting with his lawyers who have gone to court for redress. The following day NMA came out with a release to say the suspension has been lifted because the ship surveyors have attested to the fact that the owners have complied to safety standards."
The National Maritime Authority had justified the clampdown on the nine vessels said to belong to indigenous ship-owners, saying they failed to present their vessels for classification as required by law.
The action by the NMA had set it against the Nigerian ship-owners some of whom believed the clampdown on their vessels was a deliberate ploy to keep them out of business because of their position on cabotage implementation.
Despite the seeming breakdown in the cordial relationship between the National Maritime Authority and the Nigerian Ship Owners Association, the former had continued to stress on the need for interrelationships for the success of the on-going ships survey exercise.
The NMA had two weeks ago axed nine Nigerian owned vessels for non-compliance with the country's merchant shipping regulation in a most controversial circumstance.
Amidst the aggression from this singular act, it called few days ago for the Nigerian ship-owners' co-operation in the timely survey exercise involving their vessels.
The authority said it remained committed to improve indigenous capacity for coastal and deep sea shipping as well as ensure safe, secure and cleaner oceans.
In a statement signed by the head of the authority's Corporate Department, Hajia Lami Tumaka, few days ago, the NMA said over 16 Nigerian flagged vessels were listed by the authority for classification by the International Naval Survey Bureau (INSB), adding that only seven successfully commenced the classification process.
The NMA spokesperson said, "the authority would always embrace dialogue in its regulatory exercise, as the authority must always act in the interest of indigenous shipping and coastal safety and cleaner oceans."
The Merchant Shipping Act of 1962 made it mandatory for ship owners to obtain valid safety certificates from the maritime safety administration after a classification exercise conducted by the authority or a classification society authorised by it.
The NMA had clamped down on nine vessels, saying they violated provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1962 as amended and other international shipping conventions.
Besides, it said the vessels do not posses valid statutory certificates, no ships Article of Agreement, neither do they comply with the provisions of the International Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.
However, some of the owners of the affected vessels accused the NMA of witch hunting. They said the action was the fallout of their stance on the implementation of the Cabotage Act.
Chief Isaac Jolapamo told newsmen in Lagos few days after the clampdown on the vessels that he was the target of the latest onslaught by the government because of his position on cabotage implementation.
Jolapamo said he came to the conclusion because, of all ships listed for suspension, only his ships were serviceable and functional. Others, he said, were wrecks that are not in operation.
According to him, one of his ships listed for suspension was undergoing dry-docking at the Nigerdock. He said it was wrong to have declared a vessel that was undergoing repairs at a ship repair yard as unseaworthy.
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