Gambian Transportation Minister elected new Chairman of Abuja MoU

Gambian Minister of Transportation, Works and Infrastructures, Ebrima Sillah has been elected as the new Chairman of the Abuja MoU on Port State Control. 

Ebrima took over the position from the Minister of Transportation Ghana, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah after an election in the just concluded Ministerial Conference of Abuja MoU in Gambia.

His emergence however, did not affect the Vice Chairmanship position as Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, the Minister of Transport of Nigeria retained his position. 

The main work of Abuja MoU is harmonisation of the port state control procedure and practices of all the countries in the region aimed at eliminating the operation of substandard shipping within the region thereby ensuring maritime safety, security, protection of our marine environment from pollution and improving the working and living conditions of ship crew, and to facilitate regional cooperation and exchange of information among member States.

The Secretary General, Abuja MoU, Captain Sunday Umoren, in his speech hailed the tremendous impact of the outgoing Chairman in advancing the course of vessel inspection in African territorial waters. 

Umoren extends his appreciation to Paris MoU and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for their unflinching support to the continent in the areas of human development and financial aids. 

Umoren, however, frowned at the apathy displayed by some African countries to ship inspection, which has led to the influx of substandard vessels calling at ports in the continent. 

“In preparing the 2021 Annual Report, the Secretariat carried out an analysis and benchmarking of Abuja MoU PSCI with other MoUs. This analysis revealed that only 55% of our member States are conducting Port State Inspection, which shows us as the worse preforming MoU in the light of things, noting that while some Member States are still struggling to meet the minimum 15% inspection rate, others are yet to commence inspection. 

“It was also observed that the detention rate is generally still very low. While not advocating for indiscriminate detention, Port State Control Officers (PSCOs) are implored not to shy away from detaining any vessel that is in contravention of listed non-conformities under Code #30 of the PSC Manual. Last year’s Inspection statistics are an agenda item and will be fully discussed accordingly.

“It is important for member states to take port state control inspections much more seriously than they currently do and to reach out to the Secretariat, should they require assistance in training their PSCOs in this regard. One of the measures the Secretariat has put in place in an attempt to boost the PSCI in the region, is the introduction of the mentor/mentee scheme, to encourage member States who require support to be able to stand on the shoulders of those who have been consistent and have the requisite experience in PSC Inspection, for guidance. We encourage member states to sign up to support or be supported as the case may be, so that the Abuja MoU region will together maintain proficiency, skill and professionalism in the conducting PSCI in line with acceptable standard of inspections. 

“The issue of Ratification and domestication of relevant IMO/ILO conventions is directly proportional to how well member States conduct PSC inspection in accordance with acceptable standards. It is therefore imperative that member state treat the issue of ratification and domestication of the relevant IMO/ILO convention with as much seriousness as PSC inspections, noting that you cannot enforce a convention you have not ratified or domesticated.

“Thus, we need to be intentional and resolute in our performance and the management of our reputation amongst other MoUs and this comes first by meeting our set objectives and secondly by how we do our biddings i.e, Port State Control Inspections and ratification of relevant conventions.  Let us aim at selling ourselves by our performance and not by mere talks. 

“We are grateful to Paris MoU for the opportunity offered to one Port State Control Officer for training which sadly could not be completed due to epileptic internet services at the nominee’s country. To the representative of Paris MoU here present, we welcome you and thank you for your support over the years, we sincere hope that someday we will be able to reciprocate.

“We are further appreciative of the support from IMO through its Technical Cooperation in organising the fully sponsored workshop for all the DGs/CEO of the Maritime Administrations in our Region, held in Nigeria between 9th – 11th May 2022 with the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency as hosts,” he said. 


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