International Shipping Magazine interviewed the new Head of the State Service for Maritime, Inland Waterway Transport and Shipping of Ukraine — Yevhenii Ihnatenko. Where we considered the changes in the system of training and certification of seafarers, the main priorities in development, which are already results in the improvement of services for the provision of services to seafarers. And also which international direction is significant.
What is the main direction of work and what priorities does the new leadership of the Shipping Administration choose?
We are currently working together with the team of the Shipping Administration (hereinafter — SA) on a number of important priority tasks. For many years, the entire maritime community has been waiting for changes in the system of training and certification of seafarers, finally, thanks to the adoption of Resolution No. 1499 by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on December 30, 2022, it became possible to restart the certification system and bring it as close as possible to international standards. Currently, the entire team is actively working on the implementation of the specified resolution and there are the first achievements of the SA in this area.
Another key priority is the renewal of the legal framework that regulates relations in the field of maritime and inland water transport and shipping. So far, a number of amendments to current but outdated legal acts and a number of drafts of new legal acts have already been prepared and sent to the Ministry of Infrastructure in the prescribed manner, which will help to make the state services provided by the SA higher quality and more transparent.
The key priority task is the upgrade of the system of supervision and control of vessels, the corresponding changes have already begun. An important place among the priority tasks is the quality of the provision of SA administrative services, I believe that the leveling of bureaucratic factors and the maximum digitization of all processes are necessary to improve services. And, the key issue for today is the issue of our role on the international arena — in this area, it is important to conclude/expand the concluded memoranda with various countries, and, of course, active cooperation and representation of national interests in the Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the European Maritime Agency security (EMSA), the Danube Commission, and others.
What obstacles in the efficiency of the work of the Shipping Administration did you notice after your nomination as the head?
I was never afraid, of difficulties, and I am not afraid now. Therefore, I am always happy for new challenges, regardless of the complexity of the tasks. According to the results of the work, I get satisfaction from the successful results. I believe that a sincere desire to improve something will definitely help to find a successful solution and an appropriate result. For me, any obstacle is a challenge, and when I succeed in accomplishing what I set out to do, I get special satisfaction. On the other hand, I understand that the more significant the changes I implement, the more negativity I will feel from my opponents — I am ready for this, because this is the way to victory.
How does your past work experience help you now?
I have a lot of work experience in different fields, I took the most valuable thing from each one, which helps me to solve completely different tasks. I can highlight three: this is my education, many years of business experience, and perhaps the main one, this is military service. Education and business related to the maritime industry help me understand the problems of seafarers from the inside and look for all possible options to solve them here — in my position. Military service is about «honor» and «dignity» — concepts that I focus on every day and always.
What problems did you personally encounter in working with SA when you worked in private companies?
Yes, there were many problems. Due to the fact that I have experienced all this on my own working routine, I have a guide as to where to move and what to change. It is precisely these problematic issues that I set out to solve — the first results are already there, and there will be more to come.
What reforms in the system of certification and training of seafarers are you working on? What are you aiming for?
Now all the attention of the maritime community is focused on this issue, sailors have been waiting for transparent processes in the field of graduation. According to the updated procedure, the Shipping Administration accepts applications from seafarers for obtaining qualification documents, makes a decision on their issuance, and as a result issues qualification documents to seafarers, or refuses to issue them on the grounds stipulated by the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 1499 of 12.30.2022.
Review of the documents submitted by seafarers and decision-making regarding confirmation of competences is provided by the newly created State Qualification Commission for Seafarers (SQCS), which functions as part of the Shipping Administration and started its work on February 14. During this period, the SQCS has already adopted the first decisions on confirming the professional competence of a seafarer based on experience and issued the first qualification documents. Also, examinations are systematically held using the CES 6.0 test recognized by the international maritime community. SQCS is present during the exam and immediately informs the seafarer of its results after its completion. In case of successful completion, the seafarer receives an appropriate certificate with the signature of a member of the SQCS. The results and the certificate are issued automatically with the help of a computerized testing system, which makes external influence impossible.
It should be added that the selection of members of the SQCS was as open as possible, each candidate was thoroughly checked by us, and the main selection criteria were maritime education, work experience in the maritime industry and transparent biographical references. As of today, it is possible to obtain qualification documents by contacting the Shipping Administration or Morrichservice, in accordance with the procedure established by the Regulations. The team is working on the implementation of a simple and secure solution for remote submission, later seafarers will also have the opportunity to receive certification services through the Diya portal.
It is important to note that the use of the «Sailor’s Electronic Cabinet» application is not prescribed by any regulatory act, and therefore does not carry any legal consequences. At the same time, the powers of the members of the SQC, which functioned under the Inspectorate for training and certification of seafarers, have been terminated. Therefore, I call on the maritime community to support transparent procedures and issue qualification documents in the only legal way, the way provided by the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 1499 of 12.30.2022.
What methods in the fight against corruption are foreseen by the updated services?
I this regard two issues are important — technical and personnel. The digitization of processes will allow to remove many corruption risks. For example, we are currently actively working on technical integration with the Diya portal, which will almost completely eliminate the «human» factor in the seafarer certification procedure.
Digitization of processes will also apply to other spheres of activity of the Shipping Administration. On the other hand, we are updating our personnel, part of the updated team has already been presented to the community. I have high hopes for a new team of like-minded people, at the same time I understand how much effort still needs to be put in to succeed in the planned endeavor.
How can we get in line with the international standards, and what steps have already been taken in this direction?
Yes, approaching international standards, as I have already noted, is one of our main priorities, but the path will not be easy and quick. For this, we have to once again update the existing legal framework. It is also necessary to constantly adopt the experience of the best international practices and apply them in Ukraine, for this I’m planning to cooperate with international partners on an ongoing basis. In order for processes to be automated and services to be provided with quality, we also need to constantly attract investments.
Why, in your opinion, it used to take a long time to resolve the urgent issues of sailors?
I will not comment for others, while my actions will try to benefit the maritime community as soon as possible. I want to do what I can, because there is really a lot of work, which is why you will see so many changes now.
How do you rate the effectiveness of seafarers obtaining Border Crossing Confirmation from the Shipping Administration in a month?
Every day, the employees of the SA check the documents that the sailors submit to us for consideration. If the seafarer has passed the inspection, he has the opportunity to receive confirmation from the Shipping Administration about receiving copies of educational and qualification documents under my signature or the signature of my deputies. If you are interested in the stats from the last month, more than three thousand such certificates were signed and issued during this period. At the same time, since the adoption of the resolution of the CMU dated September 2, 2022 No. 992, the Shipping Administration has already issued more than 20,000 Confirmations.
Our employees always process all applications as quickly as possible, the service is provided on time, I can say that Confirmations are signed both at night and on weekends.
Regarding the regulation of merchant shipping and shipping safety, what do you think needs to be changed?
It is necessary to comprehensively review the existing legal framework in almost all the main areas of activity. First of all, this is the implementation of the Law «On Inland Water Transport» and its final provisions, as well as bringing into line the acts that in certain parts contradict this law.
Along with this, it is necessary to speed up the preparation of projects of normative legal acts in terms of the safety of the fishing industry’s fleet, including with the aim of eliminating the remarks revealed during the audit by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Also, in the short term, the development and implementation of information systems and electronic registers to ensure optimization and transparency of state supervision and control measures, and in the field of providing administrative services. It is necessary to fully launch and ensure the implementation of the functional subsystem of response to emergency events on sea and inland water transport, as well as the introduction of a system of comprehensive protection of ports, and not only port facilities.
Interview conducted by Tetiana Sivkova