The Nigerian Government and Industry Working Group (NIWG) is working to finalise a new Nigerian National Maritime Reporting Framework to support merchant vessels in distress.
Mr Philip Kyanet, Head, Corporate Communications, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) made this known in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos on Friday.
He said that the Joint Working Group (JWG) comprised NIMASA, Ministry of Transport, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Ports Authority, Marine Police Interpol and the oil industry.
The oil industry is represented by Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF).
The shipping industry is represented by International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (INTERCARGO), International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO) and the Nigerian Shipowners’ Association.
Kyanet said that they were established in May 2020 to facilitate coordination between government and industry and align efforts to deter and respond to incidents of piracy and armed robbery in Nigerian territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone.
He said that the NIMASA/Industry Working Group (NIWG) was the first coordinated effort between industry and the Nigerian Government.
“The objective of the working group is to accelerate efforts to tackle maritime security threats by facilitating interaction between the stakeholders and pursuing projects through mutual collaboration.
“Also in enhancing transparency between government and industry in addressing the shared goal of achieving the permanent prevention of piracy and armed robbery in the region.
“The NIMASA’s Command, Control, Computer Communication and Information (C4i) Centre has been identified as a national focal point for coordinating the multi-agency response.
“These developments are a significant step forward in improving Nigeria’s response capabilities and potentially enhancing security for vessels operating in Nigerian Waters,” he said.
Kyanet pointed out that at a regulatory level, NIMASA was working directly with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in developing a National Maritime Security Strategy.
He said that Nigeria had formally endorsed industry’s Best Management Practices West Africa (BMP WA) guidance and, following the entry into force of Nigeria’s Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, 2019 (SPOMO Act), prosecutions are underway.
“The Nigerian Navy’s maritime security response activities, the conduct of two military exercises (Operation Calm Water and Operation Sanga Sung) by NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy in recent months had been successful in testing and demonstrating response capabilities.
“Importantly, considerable progress has also been made to advance the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure project, otherwise known as the Deep Blue Project (DBP).
“This is aimed at comprehensively addressing insecurity and criminality in Nigeria’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone.
“While COVID-19 has caused disruptions to this landmark project, delayed training required to deploy DBP assets Q4 2020/Q1 2021 has recommenced.
“It is agreed by the NIWG that progressing the DBP is a key priority, which will require continued support by industry and sustained resource from the Nigerian government,” Kyanet said.