As Jamoh predicts drop in cost of insurance and shipping
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi yesterday led the management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to flag off the first phase of the National Wreck Removal Exercise, noting that the exercise will open up fresh investment opportunities across various sectors of the economy.
He lauded the initiative of the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, whom according to him mooted the idea of clearing the wrecks from Nigerian waters; explaining that he expects no less from chief executive officers of agencies of the ministries, having given free hands as experts to come up with creative ideas to grow the economy and system.
“This creative venture of clearing our waters of wrecks and derelicts, apart from guaranteeing better safety of navigation, opens up the prospects of many new investments in the maritime industry.
“This would tremendously help the Federal Government’s economic diversification drive and enhance Nigeria’s standing within the global maritime community.”
“It was the NIMASA DG’s idea that we should remove wrecks from our waters. This is what l expect from the CEOs who are the experts, it is their business to develop blueprints to grow the system for our economy to grow. I don’t interfere in their professional jobs, l am a politician and can only lead and give general direction,” Amaechi added.
In his opening speech, Jamoh said the successful removal of the wrecks and derelicts would restore confidence in Nigerian waters and eliminate obstacles to smooth, safe and profitable navigation; and thanked the Minister for securing the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the exercise.
He explained that the operation will in addition lead to significant drop in the cost of freight insurance, survey, navigational charting and shipping, as well as reinvigorate mariners and ship owners’ interests.
Jamoh said the wreck removal exercise is in line with the Triple S-Strategy of the current Management of NIMASA anchored on Maritime Safety, Maritime Security and Shipping Development.
“These wrecks inhibit the operation of shipping companies, which constantly strive to increase efficiency in order to remain in business. As a result, most of the shipping companies usually avoid operating or investing in areas where navigational hazards are identified due to high insurance premium charges.
“It is pertinent to state that the benefits that would be derived upon completion of the exercise extend to other areas of maritime core functions, such as search and rescue services, Cabotage monitoring, as well as prevention and mitigation of marine pollution.”
He further explained that NIMASA is charged with the responsibility of ensuring safety and security at sea as well as regulating the maritime industry in line with international laws and conventions, principally, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
“In line with this mandate and in recognition of the importance of safety of navigation in Maritime Administration, the Agency has established the need for removal of critical wrecks along the Badagry Creek.”
The NIMASA DG said the recycling of the wrecks will be done in partnership with the Bayelsa State Government and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), which has foundry plants in Lagos; noting that the whole process is about turning waste to wealth, and about providing jobs for Nigerians, while making our waters navigable and safe.
The Acting Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello-Koko who was also at the event described the exercise as a welcome development, even as he advised NIMASA to begin with the identification of critical wrecks that could hinder navigation for immediate removal.
He also suggested that data of all abandoned vessels on the channels be updated with the owners duly notified about their likely removal to avoid conflicts and litigation, noting that as a way forward, the Federal Government in the alternative should institute a legal process to auction them.
The NPA boss also said Nigeria can make more income from ship breaking opportunities as is the case with countries like Sri Lanka, Singapore etc. This is even as Mr. Nasir Abdulnasir, Managing Director of Raji Industries Limited, a metal recycling company, said they will partner with NIMASA to utilise the wrecks through melting and conversion to other productive and industrial uses.
Abdulnasir estimated the collection of 200 wrecks in Lagos waters alone by his company, which he said amount to 200,000tons, and translate to over N30b.
Also speaking at the event, President, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Dr. MkGeorge Onyung, urged the transportation minister to pay greater attention to the maritime industry and to extend the same deliberate policy to grow local shipping through capacity building, making veiled reference to the stalling of the disbursement of the controversial Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).
He said, “It’s a good thing what the government is doing to ensure safety. We want them to take deliberate policies to move the industry forward. At the same time, like l have heard from the horse’s mouth, the DG NIMASA, that we should consult the oracle so that the minister for transportation will start looking at our direction.
“He has gone too much with the rail, so l think we should give him a big round of applause, so that he will come to Macedonia and help us. As much as we bury the wrecks, many ships, when they die, there is no place to bury them. Now that we are finding graves for wrecks from ships, we want to see an opportunity for us to also take that deliberate policy towards getting new ships, towards getting this industry to meet with what is going on in the world.
“ I have been told that containers from China coming to Nigeria is now $15000. I have also been told that the first eleven international shipping companies, the Grimaldis of this world, the Mearsk Lines of this world, Cosco and so on, in the first quarter of this year made a profit of $19billion. And for the second quarter, the same companies made $28billion. Half of a year, eleven companies are making a profit of almost $50billion, we cannot be spectators, l think it is time for us…as we have started, to as well go all the nine yards.
“I congratulate the minister for getting this for the industry. He is a fighter, and l hope one day, we will win our battles.”
Reacting however to Onyung’s suggestion that he has the capacity and resilience to broker the disbursement of the CVFF, Amaechi replied he no longer have the zeal to pursue the matter because of political interferences.