SAFE AND SOUND

Nigeria 2016 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Haruna Baba Jauro, Executive Director of Administration & Finance for the Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency (NIMASA), on its role in the maritime industry, and renewed optimism in the sector.

Haruna Baba Jauro
BIOGRAPHY
Haruna Baba Jauro was appointed as the Acting Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) by President Muhammadu Buhari on July 22, 2015. An Accountant by profession, he holds an MBA and is a Fellow of both the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM) and the Chartered Institute of Administrators (CIA), until his appointment as the Executive Director in charge of Finance and Administration in the Agency.

What is NIMASA's mandate in Nigeria, and what are the most important issues that the agency handles today?

Our first mandate is promoting indigenous shipping capacity both internationally and locally, and the second concerns the regulation of the maritime industry in terms of labor, marine environment pollution prevention and control, and security and safety of the Nigerian maritime domain. NIMASA is also Nigeria's government agency responsible for the implementation and enforcement of all regulations, conventions, and protocols of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as ratified by the country. We are also now engaged in building a dockyard specifically for indigenous shipping companies. NIMASA is also engaged in training Nigerian seafarers through direct sponsorship of young Nigerians in reputable institutions abroad and also funding Nigeria's premier maritime training institution, the Maritime Academy of Nigeria in Oron, Akwa Ibom State. The agency has also established institutes in some Nigerian universities that offer maritime training courses. So far we have partnered with six universities. NIMASA also has a special program whereby loans are disbursed to indigenous operators for fleet expansion. We enforce the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, which stipulates that vessels trading in Nigerian waters must be built in Nigeria, owned by Nigerians, registered in Nigeria, and crewed by Nigerians.

Regarding the new ministers, what changes do you expect from the administration?

We expect positive changes. Our supervising minister is pragmatic and has a reputation for infrastructural renewal; we expect him to bring this experience to bear on the various facets of the maritime industry. We are optimistic that the government will make good on its desire to diversify the economy and therefore support all sectors of the economy to fulfill their potential. I expect tremendous changes, development, and improvement for the general welfare of Nigerians.

In the coming years, how will NIMASA improve business practices in the maritime sector in Nigeria?

To open up an investment environment, regulations need to be less stringent, yet also meet internationally recognized standards, and the environment for these businesses must be secure in terms of capital and physical security. We have entered into MoUs with the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Air Force for the purpose of round-the-clock coastal patrols and air surveillance to ensure that vessels navigate in and out of Nigeria without molestation. We are also acquiring faster boats, expanding our radar communication, and developing surveillance by obtaining some new audiovisual equipment that will enhance ship to shore communication as well as search and rescue operations. We have also developed our own satellite surveillance system that is capable of detecting vessel movements within Nigeria's coast extending into the entire Gulf of Guinea. What we need to do now is develop responders so that if we see anything, we can respond on time. NIMASA is also working to improve the ease of doing business by consolidating regulations and reducing areas of functional overlap with other agencies. Safety and ease of business are our top priorities.

What are your expectations for the year ahead?

I expect growth in the revenue, especially in the non-oil sector. I also expect expansion in both our imports and exports, and a more disciplined business environment. By 2016, we are going to implement more disciplinary measures, so that people will come independently to pay taxes and levies and we will not have to waste energy going after them to enforce compliance. With the new determination and commitment of the President Buhari administration, we can see that there is going to be a more conducive business and operating environment that will be beneficial to all stakeholders in terms of adequate returns to investors and a safe and secure environment for operators, as well as increased revenue for the government with the ultimate positive impact on the citizenry.