By Adekunle Segun
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has held the bull by the horns by taking the bold step to decide to evacuate wrecks from Nigeria’s waterways. Over the years our waterways have become a major death trap and nightmare for vessels navigating inwards for discharge or offloading operations; or outbound for waiting or clearing at all of any charge.
Nigerian waters are currently littered with huge dead vessels popularly called dead ships which have posed major challenges to different vessels. These wrecks and dead ships are the reasons why our waters and intended waterways have become a compulsory pilotage district when the need to traverse these waters arises.
A dead ship is a vessel that is always on blackout over a long period of time, thereby posing a major risk to other vessels that may want to come in at night and move during the dark. A wreckage on the other hand are vessels or other steel water craft that sank in fairly deep waters that now pose an underwater danger to the hull of various vessels during navigation or at anchorage.
According to the NIMASA director general, Dr Bashir Jamoh, arrangements have been concluded for the removal and recycling of wrecks that will be recovered from the waters. More important is the fact that the Bayelsa State government and the Nigeria Railways Corporation are willing to partner with NIMASA in recycling and making the wreck removal drive a successful reality. The Nigeria Railway Corporation currently has a recycling plant and a foundry in Lagos and the wrecks to be removed from the waterways will provide ready-made raw materials for this foundry.
Now, whether these foundries can absolve the amount of steel that will be extracted from the waterways is another discussion entirely; but this will make our water more navigable and reduce the waiting time to compulsorily luggage a pilot to bring a vessel to Nigeria. It is very crucial to note that Nigeria is a signatory to various conventions of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), and these include, SOLAS and COLREG, which emphasize the importance of safety of various waterways and prevention of collision. The increasing presence of wrecks has made our coastal waters a compulsory pilotage channel and this is not helping our image in the maritime world at all.
More so, the wreck removal initiative will equally provide some flash revenue funds to the Nigerian government. This is because the steel to be evacuated from these waters is a very good source of revenue for the government of the day. Steel is currently expensive in the international market and getting various ship breaking, butchering, or scrap buying merchants to recycle these wrecks will greatly help not only the federal government of Nigeria, it will equally provide ready raw material for scrap ship buyers in the value chain process of steel recycling in West Africa.
The presence of wrecks on our waters is due to a lot of factors, amongst which include negligence on the part of various ship owners, or carelessness on the part of a ship crew. While I would not want to start a blame game here, it is very crucial that this initiative be taken very serious by NIMASA and the federal government of Nigeria that owns our waters as a country. The coastal waters of any highly endowed maritime country like Nigeria is a major foreign exchange earner and keeping this safe healthy and free of wrecks is just the right initiative on the part of government. A sizable number of big countries in the world rely so much on the revenue from their maritime sub-sector to keep their government functioning.
Thank you for your time…
Frontpage September 18, 2019