By Ignatius Ushie

Infinity Tyres

Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has stressed the need for Port State Control Officers (PSCOs) to display high level of professionalism in carrying out their duties of inspecting foreign ships at national ports. This was contained in a statement made available to Transport Day in Abuja.

Amaechi spoke at the 11th Port State Control Committee (PSC) Meeting of the Memorandum of Understanding on PSC for West and Central Africa Region also known as Abuja MoU, Wednesday in Lagos.

The Transportation Minister explained that the essence of PSC, “the inspection of Ships, to verify their condition, equipment, and whether the ship is manned and operated in compliance with the requirements of international conventions and regulations to ensure maritime safety and security of lives, assets and to prevent pollution.”

Referring to PSCOs as ambassadors of the MoU, the Minister stated that continuous trainings are required to maintain set standards at Ports, and called on member states to work together in achieving set goals. According to him,

“Bearing in mind that Port State Control Officers are ambassadors of the MoU, it is therefore important that they constantly undergo continuous trainings which would impact on their knowledge and skills, as well as on their overall standard of inspections at the Ports. However, this cannot be achieved without the commitment, financial and otherwise of every Member State.

“We must all join forces and strive to ensure that we constantly uphold the ideals and objectives upon which the MoU was established. For this reason, I urge all Member States to play their part in contributing towards the growth of the Abuja MoU, so that we can constantly meet with expectations and safeguard our marine domains,” he said.

He however thanked Member states for ensuring that the Abuja MoU performed well in the face of Covid19 and urged them not to relent in their commitments to inspections, trainings and overall contributions.

“I must thank most of our Member States for their performance and swift responses in declaring seafarers as key workers and in lending their support to ensure that the impact of COVID- 19 did not disrupt global  shipping. While it is to be noted that the resulting effect of the pandemic slowed down inspection of vessels,  nonetheless, based on our 2020 Report, the Abuja MoU performed relatively well in the inspection of vessels that called at our Ports,” he said.

In the same vein, Ghana’s Minister of Transportation and Chairman of Abuja MoU, Hon. Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, in his opening speech said “Port State Control acts as an important safety-net to eliminate the operation of sub-standard ships to ensure the needed safety. It is therefore refreshing to note that notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic, our performance as Flag States have been very encouraging.

He called on member states to “prioritise the vaccination of seafarers, their off and on signings, especially in the repatriation process, and ensure strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols to protect PSCOs and Crew of vessels visiting their ports.

Asiamah also stated that member states “must be guided by the IMO’s Code of Good Practice for Port State Control Officers and other relevant circulars and Statutory Documents in conducting inspections within the Framework of the Regional Memorandum of Understanding and Agreement on Port State Control,” while ensuring that their PSCOs are empowered to safely conduct inspections, “and to always aim at exceeding the agreed 15per cent minimum number of foreign vessels that call at our ports. States should also accept and endorse the IMO’s guidelines on Cyber Security as part of the Safety Management Codes,” he said.

The Ghanian Minister also called on women to explore careers in PSC and other related fields as according to him, “Women are great agents of change.” He tasked member states to create avenues for the participation of women as Port State Control Officers.

Other Ministers at the meeting include Sierra Leone’s Minister of Transport and Aviation, Hon. Kabineh Kallon and Nigeria’s Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Ruquayya Saraki among others participating online.