*Seeks insurance coverage for stevedores
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Chuks Udo Okonta
The Guild of Marine Surveyors has implored insurance companies in the country to always appoint registered surveyors to be their eyes at the nation’s ports.
A marine surveyor is a person who inspects, surveys, or examines marine vessels in order to assess damage, inspect or monitor their condition and that of any cargo on board. Marine surveyors also inspect equipment intended for new or existing vessels to ensure compliance with various standards or specifications.
The President, Guild of Marine Surveyors of Nigeria, Wale Adetoro, while speaking when members of the Insurance and Pension Editors of Nigeria (IPEN) paid a courtesy visit to the Guild in its headquarter in Ojuelegba, Lagos, yesterday, noted that, some insurance companies still patronise unregistered surveyors, who, in most cases, are not professional in the discharge of their duties.
Stating that the Guild is sensitising underwriting firms through the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) to always carry out due diligence on any appointed surveyor to ensure he or she is registered, he added that, the list of registered ones are on the Guild’s website.
“We still have surveyors operating at the port that are not our members, yet Insurance companies engage them. Most of it is brown envelope under the table and if they commit any fraudulent act, nobody is there to discipline them. But in our own case, we have punitive measure against erring members which has made every member to be alive to the discharge of their duties and responsibilities.
“Most of the importers don’t know who a surveyor or Superintendent is. Awareness is still needed to enlighten importers on what our roles are. We have appealed to insurance companies through the NIA that if they want to appoint, they should go through our website to appoint registered members,” he pointed out.
The marine surveyors, according to him, are appointed by insurance companies to superintend and supervise cargoes that were earlier insured through marine policy to minimise damage and report accurately to their insurers the level of and reasons for damage.
Essentially, he said, marine surveyors work in the port mainly to try and limit claim exposures on marine Insurance through prompt monitoring of the discharged cargoes, such that, damages are limited in the process.
To him, “Insurance companies appoint us to be their face at the port, so, we are their representative. However, we have some superintendents who works with Nigerian Port Authority(NPA). As a group, we are not chartered yet, but we are working towards that. We are interacting with NIA through Marine Offices Committee(MOC) of the NIA. We also work in conjunction with Shippers Council and NIMASA. MOC consist of all the marine technical heads in insurance companies. Through NIID Marine Portal, it has been able to curb, to some extend, fake marine certificate.”
Similarly, the General Secretary, Guild of Marine Surveyors, Festus Nwiue, urged Shippers Council to ensure stevedores working at the port are adequately insured with liability insurance and are adequately trained on handling of cargoes, stating that, most insurance claims arising from marine insurance were as a result of mishandling of cargoes during discharge.
“Stevedore are the ones with the responsibility of discharging the ship or loading the ships. Stevedores are those who uses forklift, crane and so on and were responsible for loading and offloading the ships, They don’t have any insurance cover, they don’t know anything about insurance. So, some mishandle cargoes that lead to damage of goods in the process, hence, increasing the risks marine insurers are exposed to. And they mishandled cargo because they are not held responsible for damages by Shippers Council.
“So, we have recommended to the Shippers Council to ensure that stevedores are made to procure liability insurance cover, so that they will be careful when handling goods. They are doing that because they know they are not held responsible. We urge the regulator to ensure any stevedore working in Nigerian ports has insurance cover,” he stressed.
Earlier, the President of IPEN, Chuks Udo Okonta, said, the purpose of his group’s visit is to partner marine surveyors in the area of awareness creation on marine surveying to increase adoption.
Saying that marine insurance has suffered low media reporting in the past, he promised that the group will continually offer his hand of fellowship to the Guild whenever in need, especially, in the area of awareness on marine insurance and the roles of surveyors and superintendents.
“We, as developmental journalists, see you as critical stakeholder in insurance value-chain and just like we have engaged and currently working with some insurance consumer groups, operators, associations, and regulators, we hold the Guild of Marine Surveyors in high esteem, hence, offering ourselves for this synergy and partnership to promote insurance education, awareness, thereby, increasing, adoption across the country,” he pointed out.
Okonta said, his group is interested in developmental journalism, such that, consumers as well as stakeholders in the value-chain of insurance and Pension services were given a voice to share their experiences when using the services of insurers and Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs).