Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency has extended the validity of statutory and trading certificates for all Nigerian registered vessels.
These include Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping certificates for seafarers issued by the agency, the maritime regulator has said.
The Director-General of NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh, who made this known at the agency’s head office in Lagos on Thursday, said NIMASA remained committed to implementing its mandates during the COVID-19 crisis.
He said it was necessary to ensure uninterrupted shipping, despite the pandemic, describing shipping as one of the major ways of moving medical aid across the globe.
“Our determination to ensure that shipping continues during this trying time remains unwavering. This is why we have continued to come up with measures to keep the global shipping chain moving in line with the recommendations of the International Maritime Organisation,” Jamoh stated.
The agency, he said, was aware of the difficulties seafarers would be facing and the need to keep them in job even beyond the pandemic era, saying this necessitated the agency’s publication of a notice to extend its certificates and other statutory certificates that would ensure uninterrupted shipping.
His words, “One of our major priorities is to keep our seafarers in job while not jeopardising their safety in terms of contracting the deadly virus. We have, therefore, come up with a notice that would extend the validity of their certificates, for those of them that might be expiring soon. We have also issued guidelines that would regulate crew change during this pandemic.”
Expatiating on the notice issued by the agency, Jamoh disclosed that following IMO’s recent guidelines on the certification of seafarers and fishing vessel personnel, NIMASA had extended the validity of relevant certificates, including STCW, Mandatory and Safety certificates, and certificates of medical fitness.
Others are the Statutory and Trading Certificates related to SOLAS ’74 as amended, MARPOL 73/78 as amended, Certificates of Ship Registry, National requirements for Power Driven Small Crafts, and MLC 2006, as amended.
He said the extension would apply to all Nigerian-flagged vessels and seafarers sailing on-board Nigerian-flagged vessels, as well as seafarers with Nigerian Certificate of Competency who are sailing on foreign flagships.
Jamoh said the extensions would enable Owners and Masters of Ships to permit personnel to continue performing duties in the view of the COVID-I9 pandemic and the nation-wide lockdown.