The Transportation Minister, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi has called on the member states to the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Abuja MoU) to also pay attention to ship and crew proficiency in its drive to eliminate sub-standard shipping on African waters.
The Minister said this while speaking at the 3rd Ministerial Conference of the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Abuja MoU) which held in Accra, Ghana, recently.
He expressed delight that the port state control regional agreement has continued to expand its frontiers, adding that its expansion into new areas is making it impossible for unscrupulous ship owners to identify convenient ports to trade and evade Port State Inspection and possible detention.
Calling for the adoption of stricter measures in realising the regional agreement, Amechi advised that while focusing on eliminating substandard shipping, greater attention should be paid to the ship and crew proficiency.
“This is particularly important because an incompetent crew can turn the most modern vessel into a potential hazard culminating into loss of lives, property and pollution of the marine environment.”
He called on member nations to identify and engage all relevant stakeholders to further boost the effectiveness of the Port State Control Inspection regime and foster cooperation in the drive to eliminate substandard shipping. “I therefore call for a more all-inclusive stakeholder interactive session in our different jurisdictions to enable us work together in addressing areas of common concern and further bring to fore the safety administrations’ zero tolerance for non-compliance with maritime safety standards,” Amechi said.
In his speech, the Transportation Minister of Ghana, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah noted that some ship owners in their quest to make profit, often resort to cutting corners and undermining best practices.
He disclosed that some unscrupulous ship owners neglect the maintenance and repair of of their vessels. Adding that they also prolong the work life of vessels beyond the age at which they would usually be sold off as scrap. He also disclosed that their ships are often manned with poorly trained or inadequately equipped personnel who are to navigate the vessels and transport cargo. According him, these practices encourage the increase in the number of substandard ships in existence on the waters today.
Speaking further, Asiamah explained that member states are required to target at least 15 percent of foreign ships calling at the ports for port state control inspections. “However, reliable statistics over the years indicate that as a sub region, we are far from meeting the 15 percent target. For example, in 2016, the report from the Abuja MoU indicated that only four percent of vessels were inspected by port state control officers. This development is not encouraging and calls for immediate attention,” he said.
Speaking further, Asiamah called on the member nations to enquire why targets are not being met and if it is due to inadequate equipment and qualified personnel, he advised parties to the Abuja MoU to consider establishing an audit assessment mechanism among member nations to ensure that port state control officers perform their normal duties diligently even as maritime administrations implement the right measures.
He urged member nations to, in the spirit of the theme of the conference, “tighten the net through effective coordination and harmonization of port state control procedures to improve maritime safety and eliminate the menace posed by the operation of substandard ships in the sub region.”