Integrated Marine and Petroleum Services (IMAPSOL), a 100 per cent Nigerian company with a global presence, is key to developing human capital in Nigeria. “We send our employees to conduct training programmes in business and marketing to become the best-certified inspectors in industry development,” says Stanley Okafor, CEO of IMAPSOL. This commitment to its employees is one of the leitmotifs of the company in all areas of its portfolio.
The company, which began operations in 2005, initially focused its activities on the inspection of cargo, and then expanded its transportation services. “We provide comprehensive reports from the initial stage of the cargo to the point of discharge in order to reduce the cost and analysing the quality of the vessel, abiding with international standards and all requirements set by the Nigerian institutions like NIMASA,” explains Mr Okafor.
Having worked with international oil companies, such as Total, IMAPSOL has a proven track record that allows it to pick and choose its partners with care. He explains: “After checking the financial capability and track record we seek in a partner that they are reliable and have integrity. Integrity and transparency is crucial for us.”
For the IMAPSOL CEO, the Nigerian maritime industry is booming and plays a key role in the country’s economy, yet faces major challenges, such as the expansion of its ports. “We want big types of vessels coming to our ports that can carry big loads. There is a restriction of big cargo vessels to Nigeria because of the lack of deep-sea ports, and therefore, I believe that this is one of the main areas that need to be addressed,” he comments, adding that local shipping companies also require improved access to funding – as well as lower interest rates – in order to upgrade their fleets.
“We need the Government to assist us if we want a new vessel and help notable shipping companies like ourselves negotiate loans with banks or create a fund for shipping so that we can benefit from it and have our own indigenous vessels. They should promote shipping companies acquiring new vessels instead of using vessels that are 40 years old and are not safe,” he remarks.
Yet another improvement Mr Okafor proposes is a reduction of bureaucracy. “Another important thing to do is to join the different agencies that are in the ports together in order to stimulate more cargos coming in and remove the red tape that the different agencies who operate in the ports facilities create, since they all have similar duties. This would make life easier for the stakeholders of the industry.”