The United States Government has confirmed that thirteen more port facilities in Nigeria are now fully compliant with the International Ships and Ports Facility Security (ISPS) Code bringing the total number of compliant port facilities in the country to twenty two.
In an engagement between the officials of the United States government and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the US government acknowledged the effort of the Agency in raising the security levels of ships and port facilities in Nigeria, and assured of its commitment to continue to partner with Nigeria to improve security measures.
In addition to this, the United States Embassy in a diplomatic note earlier issued to the Nigerian Government had acknowledged that although Nigeria may be facing significant difficulty in instituting the needed security measures, the progress Nigeria has made so far is well noted and the clear delineation of NIMASA as the Designated Authority is a positive step.
According to the Diplomatic Note, the United States is also aware of NIMASA’s effort to improve its oversight of the Nigerian port facilities.
However, the note also stated that based on the United States Coast Guard (USCG) reports per the several visits and assessments carried out within the last six years, USCG does not find that effective anti-terrorism measures are in place in some of the ports of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with the exception of some notable port facilities.
The United States has therefore placed Nigeria on the Port Security Advisory even as it said only 22 port facilities in Nigeria are fully ISPS Code compliant.
Accordingly, Conditions of Entry (COE) have been imposed on vessels originating or calling from non-compliant ports in Nigeria which will be subjected to further security checks before being allowed into the United States of America.
The COE are not trade sanctions and do not ban Nigerian ships from entering US Ports. It does require ships however, to take certain additional security related measures while at non-exempt Nigerian ports facilities.
The COE has no impact on shipping traffic entering Nigerian waters and/or berthing at its ports; it deals only with shipping traffic departing Nigerian ports that is destined for the United States.
Meanwhile, the United States Coast Guard affirmed his commitment to work with the Agency to ensure that the Nigerian Ports are ISPS Code compliant.
The Agency is currently carrying out a Verification Inspection Exercise (VIE) across all Nigerian port facilities and security threat levels at non-compliant port facilities will be heightened until identified improvement opportunities are addressed while Statement of Compliances (SoCs) will only be issued to compliant port facilities.
June 18, 2014: Image: Nigeria trade hub