Travel by sea and other related bodies of water remain the primary means of carrying out international trade and the movement of bulk goods. However, this imposes a huge regulatory burden on countries which must exercise the utmost diligence in screening vehicles and cargo passing through their ports of entry.
This is the purpose of this article which examines the Nigerian maritime sector and the components of the regulatory framework that governs it.
The components of the regulatory framework governing the Nigerian maritime sector are:-
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The maritime sector in Nigeria is governed by the following laws and agencies:-
– The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)
-Nigeria’s Coasting Trade Act.
– The Admiralty Jurisdiction Act.
– The Merchant Navy Act.
– The Federal High Court of Nigeria.
– The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
– The Nigerian Maritime and Administrative Security Agency (NIMASA).
The Federal High Court of Nigeria :- The Admiralty Jurisdiction Act provides that the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court covers the following matters:-
- Questions of Property Interest in Marine Vessels.
- Any maritime jurisdiction previously exercised by a Nigerian court prior to the coming into force of the Admiralty Jurisdiction Act.
- Actions or demands relating to any cause or matter by any shipowner or other person under the Shipping Act.
- Liability claims arising from oil pollution.
- Causes of action arising from river navigation classified as a national waterway.
- Causes of Action Arising from the Federal Ports of the Country.
- Causes of action arising out of banking transactions in support of the export and import of goods from and to Nigeria via vessels.
The Merchant Dispatch Law :- This is an Act of the National Assembly that serves as the fundamental legislative instrument governing vessel collisions and liabilities arising from collisions.
Under this law, liability for damage or loss caused by maritime collisions will be directly proportional to the level of causal liability attributable to the parties involved.
This law also applies to ships and vessels owned by the Nigerian government.
The Nigerian Maritime Administrative and Security Agency (NIMASA) :- NIMASA is a government agency created by the NIMASA Act 2007 and charged with jurisdiction over maritime safety, maritime security and registration as well as maritime labor matters.
The main functions of NIMASA are:-
– Supervise registration and registration of vessels.
– Development of a regulatory and management framework for maritime training and safety standards.
– Regulation of the certification of seafarers.
– Ensure and enforce compliance with maritime vessel safety regulations.
– Ensure safety in the Nigerian maritime industry with respect to ship construction and navigation standards
– Exercise regulatory functions relating to merchant shipping.
Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003 :- This is an act of the National Assembly which was created to fulfill the functions of –
- To perform regulatory functions on maritime transport in Nigeria.
- Ensure the creation of a financing fund for cabotage vessels.
- To create a favorable support system to enable Nigerian citizens to own or manage vessels while limiting over-reliance on foreign vessels in transporting goods through the country’s waterway system.
The National Industrial To research of Nigeria (NICN):- This is a component of the Superior Court hierarchy that exercises original jurisdiction over maritime labor cases in Nigeria.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) :- It is an agency of the United Nations (UN) established in 1958 and which admitted Nigeria as a member on March 15, 1962.
This agency was established to implement the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (to which Nigeria is a signatory) which is one of the most developed systems of international law governing international maritime cases in times of peace.