Statistical records have revealed that there is a high rise in accidents on board ships, in spite of efforts to control such accidents, and that majority of the accidents are caused by human errors on board.
Security, safety of lives and efficient shipping operations in our waters have been the cardinal objectives of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), and the apex world maritime body for a long time kept on improving ship construction and equipment standard by continuously amending the Safety of Lives at Sea (SOLAS) convention.
Invariably, stakeholders in the maritime industry have their various role to play in complementing the various efforts of IMO towards SOLAS initiative actualisation and this also implies that various segments and operators in the industry should be committed to making their own input, to the success of SOLAS.
The Continuous rise in accident occurrence amidst the SOLAS amendments demanded comprehensive casualty investigation, so as to find the underlying causes of accidents. A careful analysis of casualty investigation reports revealed that about 80% of accident on board were caused by human error.
Inspite of the wide acceptance of the conventions, the shipping industry, media and various governments were expressing growing dissatisfaction as to its effectiveness. The best way to deal with human error was to comprehensively amend the SOLAS convention, to bring about diversion of focus and this gave birth to the Standard of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW).
The implementation of STCW was meant to improve seafarers competence, which raised the anticipation that those safety standards would remarkably improve.
Also, implementation and enforcement of the amended convention is an opportunity to raise the standard of the world’s seafarers, improve safety, and reduce accidents and pollution.
However, the question is; why do human error accidents on board ships still take place? The occurrence of such accidents have therefore brought about mixed feelings as to the effectiveness of the STCW convention and the role of stakeholders in implementing the standards.
The maritime administrations are responsible for ensuring compliance with the implementation of the convention and the ISM Code by approving related education and training, ensuring that the duties, task and responsibilities of seafarers conform to the certificate issued. They are expected to ensure that quality standards of seafarers competence are continuously monitored, certified, endorsed and revalidated, as well as accrediting maritime academies and institutions.
In the final analysis, they must submit progress reports to IMO, concerning the implementation of the convention in their respective countries.
Training institutions as it were, play crucial role in developing seafarers competence. The scope of training provided are not limited to the convention, but are expected to exceed those set by IMO, as they will take into consideration the national challenges.
To fulfill the need of international shipping, they are to provide quality seafarers, develop and train staff in maritime education as in-line with IMO models courses, and global maritime standards. They are expected to use standards of competence tables of the Standard of Training, Certification and Watch Keeping (STCW), in setting the time table for training.
They are to focus on a competence based training system where hands on training and the development of basic skills through the use of simulators, labouratory training equipment and other practical training aids are provided.
In a nutshell, they provide academic walls by ensuring a complete utilization of necessary educational equipment and updates.
On their own part shipping companies are expected to compensate for laxity in enforcement of convention provisions by the administration and implementation of rules according to the ISM Code and the necessary standard regarding emergencies and report procedures between shipboard and company.
They are to contribute to the training of company personnel and seafarers sea service by monitoring the implementation of procedures for changing crews to ensure that sufficient time is allowed for those new to the ship to have adequate opportunity to familiarise themselves with the ship, its appliances and equipment relevant to their assigned duties, thereby providing the enabling environment to allow seafarers effectively practice the seafaring profession.
As part of competence demonstration, seafarers role under STCW has to do with acquiring and demonstrating competence, while on board, keeping pace with progress by ensuring that their knowledge is up to date in the areas relevant to their duties and responsibilities on board.
On recognition and endorsement, they are to obtain and keep up to date, any recognition endorsement that may be required and serving as authorized holder of competency certificate onboard ship of the administrations concerned.
However, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in order to keep track with the implementation of the convention and other instruments relevant to ships safety, is expected to lay emphasis on human element matters with other member states, as well as encourage technical cooperation between her member states and other organization to give effect to the convention, recognise advice and assistance provided by experts with knowledge of maritime resources and for training.
From reports, a major problem with the convention is proper implementation, as the human error factors have continuously surfaced. A summary of the annual report of marine accident investigation in London involving United Kingdom merchant vessels, pleasure craft, fishing vessels and other vessels, especially on issues relating to human factor indicated that a total of 2,485 accidents occurs yearly on the average.
A number of merchant ships on international voyages were involved in collision or near misses. The causes were attributed to crew fatigue under manning, falsified hours of work records and failure to perform dedicated look out on the bridge. Other factors include poor situational awareness and anticipation/judgment by officers of the watch.
In addition, routine paper work, cargo work, maintenance, inspections, loading unloading, passage planning and actual working hours have also been identified to have contributed to accidents and incidences.
Under the STCW, checking and making judgment concerning certificates of competency lies with the body that assesses watch-keeping skills of crew members as compared to STCW table. It is here that judgement is made as to whether or not the level of competency of seafarers poses a danger to property, persons or environment, so that action for the detention of the vessel can be initiated.
Research conducted by seafarers International Research Centre concerning fraudulent practices associated with certificates of competency and endorsement show that evidence of fraudulent practice existed in certificate issued to seafarers.
Although shipping operations today are faced with many challenges, but what is crucial to ship safety is seafarers competence, and that means the competency acquired must conform to all the standard of training, certification and watch keeping.
That is why the statement made by the eastern zone coordinator of NIMASA, Sani Mohammed in Port Harcourt that his agency has nothing to do with graduates of institution that does not meet IMO standard in job placement, and other stakeholders should follow suit.
Nembe Oil Spill From Aiteo Facility Worst I’ve Seen – Diri
The Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, on Wednesday returned from visiting the oil spill site in Nembe Local Government Area of the state, describing it as the worst he had seen in his lifetime.
The OML 29 Well 1 platform, which is operated by Nigeria’s largest indigenous oil firm, Aiteo Exploration and Production Company Limited, has been spilling crude unabated into the Santa Barbara River for about one month.
An estimated two million barrels of crude has reportedly been spilled into the river, polluting the flora and fauna of the area, the governor’s spokesperson Dan Alabrah, said.
The Minister of State of Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, had said the scene of the spill was like a war zone.
Overwhelmed by the spill, Aiteo hired Halliburton’s Boots and Coots to “kill the well” by injecting cement into it. It bought the well from the Royal Dutch Shell in 2015.
As at Wednesday, the Bayelsa government said the spill that began November 5 was still ongoing.
Governor Diri said the continuous spillage has further endangered the lives of people of Nembe, Bayelsa and indeed the Niger Delta.
In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Alabrah, the governor, who expressed shock over the quantity of crude that has been spilled into the environment, called on the Federal Government and operators of the oil field to immediately take action to stop it.
According to him, the prolonged oil spill into the water and air had an immediate and long term effect on the health of the inhabitants.
While assuring the people that appropriate measures would be taken to seek redress, he noted that the quest by oil firms to make money would not be at the expense of the lives of the people.
Describing fishing as the source of livelihood of the people of the area, Mr Diri noted that just as there are grazing routes, Bayelsa State has fishing routes and must be protected.
His words: “Today happens to be a very dark day for me. What we have seen, I believe, is worse than what happened in the Gulf of Mexico. In all my life, I have not seen such magnitude of oil spillage.
“Our people are endangered. Our people’s source of livelihood is endangered. I empathise and sympathise with the people of Nembe on behalf of the government and people of Bayelsa State.
The Bayelsa governor also decried the exclusion of indigenes of host communities in the running of the oil industry, saying that if indigenes were part of the operations of the oil field, they would have looked for ways to address the problem.
To ameliorate the suffering of the people, the governor directed the State Emergency Management Agency and Ministry of Health to immediately provide relief materials and healthcare services to the people.
Earlier, the chairman of Nembe Local Government Area, Hon. West Alalibo, and member representing Nembe Constituency 2 in the State House of Assembly, Edward Brigidi, appreciated the governor for embarking on an on-the-spot assessment visit to the site.
‘Emerging Challenges May Frustrate Dev Of Gas Resources’
Although the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) is expected to unlock gas potential in Nigeria, especially the current 206 trillion standard cubic feet proven reserves, stakeholders Wednesday said the goals might remain elusive.
Investment to unlock the series of the opportunities outlined by the country according to the stakeholders, may remain a daunting task amidst heavy levies on the sector, domestic gas pricing challenges as well as lack of necessary technology and skills set.
Coming as the price of natural gas Wednesday, tumbled further to $4.4 per MMBtu after rising close to $7, the stakeholders at the 10th Practical Nigerian Content Forum stated that without the right environment, Nigeria may miss out of the window of opportunities available through the energy transition phase.
The Senate Chairman, Local Content, Teslim Folarin at the event also insisted that the cross-sectorial local bill in the National Assembly would make existing executive orders on patronage of Nigeria goods and services a law across sectors of the economy, stressing that it won’t however scrap the NOGIC Act.
With the current high price of cooking gas, the inadequacies of gas to power plants, the experts noted that data challenges, legal framework, lack of collaboration, weak research and development, lack of technology, imposition of taxes on the gas value chain lay heavy siege to the country’s aspirations in the gas revolution.
Group Executive Director, Gas and Power at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, Abdulkadir Ahmed, insisted that declining funding for fossil fuels would create challenges for existing gas resources in the country, stressing that the sector must devise a means to fund projects and also produce more with cost.
Ahmed was also concerned about the infrastructure that transports and ensures utilisation of gas, adding that a transparent and market-driven pricing remained sacrosanct.
“We can not make progress without a market-driven and transparent gas price. No one will put in money if they have no feasibility of how they will recover their cost. There won’t be any gas to process if we do not invest in upstream activities,” he said.
Managing Director, Shell Nigeria Gas, Ed Ubong stated that there was a need to build local capacity for gas and ensure that the resources are used to spur industrial development.
According to him, there was a need to support indigenous companies to thrive, adding that the gas space remained a key avenue to grow local content.
A Governing Council Member at Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Mina Oforiokuma said with progress being made by countries like Mozambique, Nigeria needs to learn and move fast to address bottlenecks.
Speaking on the expansion of local content across sectors, Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Simbi Wabote noted that the government may consider a local content department across ministries to develop.
Wabote said: “That’s the only way you can get benefit out of the implementation because what people forget is that NCDMB is like a department within the ministry of petroleum resources saddled with the responsibility of driving local content within the oil and gas industry and controlled by the Ministry in the same way.”
Senator Folarin noted that the government remained concerned about the development of indigenous companies, adding that the move would address inefficiencies, in the long run reduce cost of projects and build strong local companies that can compete globally.
He revealed that some of the key sectors that would be primarily targeted are power, ICT, manufacturing, agriculture and others.
PHCCIMA Boss Lists Core Service Areas
The 62nd President of the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Mines, Industries and Agriculture (PHCCIMA), Sir Mike Elechi said his administration shall have member oriented, inclusive programmes and opportunities as its hallmark and guiding principles.
Elechi said this during his investiture as the PHCCIMA President in Port Harcourt during the week.
He also listed consolidation of growth, peace, unity, increased scope of programme dispensation and internally generated revenue as part of his core mandate to be delivered to the people.
He said that these would be achieved within the confines of PHCCIMA’s constitution and that of the Country.
The President who was a permanent secretary before his retirement, pointed out that the choice of the key areas was as a result of deep reflection and wide consultation with relevant stakeholders in the society.
He said that his administration would reintroduce the monthly PHCCIMA meeting, develope a calendar of member oriented programmes and opportunities as well as trade mission travels and access for the benefit of its members.
On the issue of increased scope of programme dispensation and internally generated revenue, he said that it would be realised by creating an atmosphere of welcome and corporate opportunity.
“Another way out among others, was engagement of various governments both state and local, with business strategies especially non oil businesses”, he said.
In his address, the Chairman of the occasion, Chief Ferdinand Anabrabra, urged those that are yet to be registered with PHCCIMA to hurry and do so in order to meet up with the current speed of the organisation.
Anabrabra, anchored his point on the passion that the new President and his team have for the body, which will definitely pay off.
Also speaking, the former President of Nigerian Bar Association ( NBA), Hon Onueze C.J . Okocha, said that Elechi’s whealt of experience would enable him do the expected.
”As a career Civil Servant and a successful businessman cum Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the Vintage Farm and Products in ElelIkwerre Local Government of the state, his administration would be successful.
The Tide gathered that the Elechi-led PHCCIMA executive would elapse in the next three years.
By: King Onunwor
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