Club Members are expressing concern over requirements for deck and engine cadets onboard to possess a Nigerian visa when visiting Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Members with vessels frequently trading to Nigeria say that it is difficult to get such visas for cadets, imposes substantial administrative problems and is not viable for vessels in worldwide trade.
Fines of US$500 are being charged to vessels allegedly due to non-compliance with visa regulations. Immigration authorities claim that cadets are to be considered as passengers and as such need visas for entering Nigeria. In one incident, a vessel was charged the above fine the day after being fined by Narcotics Control in Port Harcourt for the storing of certain substances in the master's safe rather than in a locked medical cabinet. This was indicated by a list which the Narcotics Control Officer had but a copy would not be provided to the vessel.
Previous incidents in Port Harcourt were noted in 2003 and the regulations being breached do not appear to apply at other Nigerian ports, suggesting that this may not be a government issue. However, efforts have been made by other parties to contact the Nigerian authorities to find out why Port Harcourt has adopted this practice and how this problem can be overcome in the future for ship operators without being subject to local fines. A response has yet to be received.
Source of information:
Loss Prevention Department
UK P&I Club