For the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), to achieve its objectives on the recent policy on shipwreck removal, the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), has called for collaboration between the operators and the industry watchdog.
President, SOAN, Greg Ogbeifun, who spoke after his inauguration ceremony for a second term in office, said the new policy might become a mirage, if necessary actions were not taken to address related issues.
NIMASA had warned all owners of abandoned ships/vessels to urgently remove same from the Nigerian territorial waters on or before April 28th, or risk sanctions ranging from forfeiture or removal by the Agency at the owners expense.
Ogbeifun criticised that the NIMASA’s approach was not only wrong but also faulty, saying: “The core function is to promote indigenous shipping. NIMASA ought to have first undertaken an inventory of the ships, their location and owners, and met with them to determine where the vessels can be moved to.”
He therefore enjoined the agency to explore areas of assistance to the vessel owners, as they might not be financially capable to undertake the task of evacuating them.
He insisted that the removal of the vessels cannot be done without the assistance of the agency, just as he raised the issue of non-availability of reliable statistics on vessels in the nation’s maritime domain.
“My personal view is that may be NIMASA would have taken a different approach. First of all, I do not have statistics of the vessels. I do not know their conditions. Some of the vessels are probably aground. Some of the owners have no power to move them. So, the cost of moving them could be quite elaborate and expensive and I do not know if any of the owners is in any financial position to shoulder the responsibility of moving them within the short time. Where will they move the vessels to? Wherever they are going to move the vessels to, they will have to incur costs. In my opinion, the NIMASA ultimatum is dead on arrival. It cannot work,” he said.
Ogbeifun further stated:“NIMASA should first of all go out there and get the details or statistics of all the vessels, and then identify the owners of these vessels and then call a meeting of all the owners and tell them that they need to move the vessels out of there.
NIMASA should first of all confirm the vessel owners and after that, ask them whether they have any challenge moving the vessels from there, and they will tell you their challenges.”