Liberia: LIMAS Hosts Brainstorming Session to Assess Preparedness for IMSAS Audit

Monrovia — The Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) through its Department of Policy, Compliance and International Relations, on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 began a three-day stakeholders' assessment workshop to continue brainstorming efforts to ensure the country's preparedness for the conduct of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Member States Audit Scheme (IMSAS).

Speaking at the joint stakeholders Assessment workshop at the Monrovia Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRMRCC) on the Bushrod Island, LiMA Deputy Commissioner for Domestic Vesssel Registration and Safety, Cllr. Charles A, Gono, Jr. said the holding of the workshop was underpinned by the fact that Liberia is preparing to be audited by the IMO in relations to the country's effectiveness in implementing its obligations as port state, flag state and coastal state.

"Liberia is due to have IMO mandatory audit. We are here to prepare. The audit will take through our responsibilities as a port state, as a flag state and as a coastal state," he stated.

According to Deputy Commissioner Gono, under these obligations, Liberia is supposed to implement laws and regulations that will empower the country to enforce all the requirements under the different maritime jurisdictions.

He expressed optimism that the stakeholders will use the three-day session to assess their preparedness to successfully undergo the audit.

The Director of Policy, Compliance and International Relations and Principal Focal Person of the IMSAS Audit, Mr. Roger Mengistu Teah informed participants that the audit preparation process started in 2019 and that the three-day event is intended to assess what has been achieved so far insofar as Liberia's preparation for the IMSAS is concerned.

He indicated that the process was interrupted by a force majeure -Covid-19 that ignited a pause on the audit.

As a result of the global outbreak of Covid-19, Director Teah said it was decided that Liberia along with other countries would be audited virtually but the Liberia Maritime Authority as the Designated Authority informed the IMO that Liberia was not prepared for the audit at that time.

"The audit places a lot of responsibilities on us. And these responsibilities are categorized in three different sections: we are going to be assessed on our port state functions; our coastal state functions as well as our flag state function. So, anything that has to do with stakeholders in this room is tied to these three areas," he pointed out.

According to him, the workshop would seek to bring stakeholders up to speed with the methodologies used by the IMO during the audit; the accepted standard that would be used during the audit - the IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code) as the audit standard which aims to provide an audited Member State with a comprehensive and objective assessment of how effectively it administers and implements those mandatory IMO instruments which are covered by the Scheme.

Mr. Roger indicated that the scheme started as a voluntary initiative that member states that wanted to assess their strengthen and processes of implementing critical IMO instruments would request voluntarily to be audited but the scheme has since become a treaty obligation that seeks to promote the consistent and effective implementation of applicable IMO instruments and to assist Member States to improve their capabilities, whilst contributing to the enhancement of global and individual Member State's overall performance in compliance with the requirements of the instruments to which it is a Party.

To institutionalize the scheme, the LiMA Policy, Compliance and International Relations Direrctor said a number of IMO instruments were amended: the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended (SOLAS 1974) (resolution MSC.366(93)); the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended (STCW 1978) (resolution MSC.373(93); the Seafarers' Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW Code) (resolution MSC.374(93); the Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966 (1988 Load Lines Protocol), as amended (resolution MSC.375(93); the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, as amended (COLREG 1972) (resolution A.1085(28)); the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966 (LL 1966) (resolution A.1083(28)); the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969 (TONNAGE 1969), (resolution A.1084(28)); the Annex of the Protocol of 1978 Relating to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 (resolution MEPC.246(66)); and annex of the Protocol of 1997 to Amend the Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, as Modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (resolution MEPC.247(66)).

He mentioned that as a Focal Person on this audit, he would work with his team across all stakeholder institutions to ensure that Liberia gets good rating in the aftermath. He added that a flying colour would position the second largest flag state country in a way that is representative of its stature.

Other facilitators at the workshop include: Mr. John Harvey, Director of Port State Control and Mr. Anthony T. Twe, Director of Domestic Vessels Registration.

The three-day event has brought together stakeholders from the National Port Authority (NPA), Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), Law Reform Commission, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of National Defence represented by the Coast Guard, National Disaster Management Agency, APM Terminals, Ministry of Mines and Energy, ArcelorMittal

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