The Nigerian Hydrographic Society (NHS) has called on the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) support NHS to drive its professional training programmes for hydrographers.
The NPA Hydrographer General of the NPA, Mr. Olumide Omotoso, who is also the Chairman NHS Lagos/South West Zone, when he spoke on the zonal forth coming hydro summit scheduled for November 23, at the Seaview Properties Limited building on Marina.
He said that the NHS has designed a curriculum in hydrography to expand the scope of training, which would takeoff under the Institute of Maritime Studies at the University of Lagos.
Omotoso said that the professional training initiative would benefit not just Nigerian alone, but Africa as a whole where professional hydrographers render their services.
“We have been able to design a curriculum that is coming in the University of Lagos under the Institute of Maritime Studies. The programme in hydrography should be something that is sustainable, feeding African countries because as we speak today, there is no civil hydrographic programme in capacity building area in Africa.
“Now, we just need sponsorship. The programme itself is syndicating with the office of the Surveyor General, the NPA, NIMASA and all the stakeholders in the maritime sector. So, what we are waiting for is the takeoff.
“We have informed the International Hydrographic Organisation, and they have accepted that we go ahead and create this programme. We have been able to scheme that, and it is ready in paper. We are hoping the NPA, NIMASA will buy into it so that it can be sustainable, and we can begin to train hydrographic professionals, an idea that the NPA Managing Director supports,” he said.
Speaking on assessing the standards of hydrographic services in Nigeria with regards to standards in practice, Omotoso said the global authority in charge of such assessment would be in Nigeria in that regard.
“The International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA), in charge of marine navigational aids globally, is coming to Nigeria very soon, to come and check the integrity of all navigational aids in our waters, so the world will know if we are compliant or not. And we are working with all the stakeholders to take IALA round all our waters to see what we have been doing,” Omotoso said.
He also disclosed that for the 2018 IALA Summit scheduled to hold in Turkey, the NPA would be presenting a paper on its activities in terms of hydrographic works, which he described as the backbone of marine aids to navigation.
The NPA Hydrographer General, however, frowned at the non-existence of a hydrographic policy, which he said should give priority to charting the Nigerian waters.
According to him, “We need national hydrographic policies that give priority to charting our waters and updating it by ourselves, but it has to be a national programme. As I speak to you, the limitation in the national maritime policy is what dovetails into the national hydrographic policy.
“In the United States of America every year, channels are prioritized. Government says this channel is my priority and we will do it and produce the charts. But Nigeria does not have such a system in place.”
He noted, however, that the NPA has continually ensured to keep wrecks off the busy channels and have information up-to-date as submitted to the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office, which is the authority in charge of the region including Nigeria.
“I can tell you that the information that we have concerning the busy channels as at today, which can be confirmed globally, is that, our charts, our surveys, hydrographic surveys, are being rendered to the charting authority over Nigeria, which is the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office, who produces the international Admiralty Charts covering the region that is under their purview,” he said, and added that “our routine wreck surveys ensure adequate monitoring of wreck drifts.”