By Stephen Ubanna
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, appears to have taken advantage of its maritime security equipment to handle to emergency situations in Nigerian water ways and the Gulf of Guinea, in the recent time.
The most recent of such rescue operations was that of the occupants of a dressed fishing vessel belonging to a national of Sao Tome, Principe. It was said to have been carried out by the agency, alongside officials of Total Energies EP, Nigeria Limited, after 11 days adrift at the ocean.
Giving an insider information, Osagie Edward, an Assistant Director and NIMASA, spokesperson had said that in rescuing the occupants of the distressed fishing vessel, the rescue Team from Total Energies Nigeria Limited on noticing the distressed vessel at the sea around its offshore operational field, OML100 had sent signals to NIMASA.
This may have informed why Bashir Jamoh, OFR, Director General, NIMASA, in turn had resent the signals to the Economic Community of West African’s sub-regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, MRRC, located in the Maritime Regulatory agency informing it of the emergency situation and the need to deployof the Search and Rescue Deep Blue vessels to rescue the occupants of the distressed Fishing vessel.
Osagie, the NIMASA, spokesperson, who had issued a Statement, at the instance of Jamoh, the agency Director General, had said that ‘’in line with the International Mritime Organisation, IMO, protocol of Safety of Lives at Sea, SOLAS, the Total Energy Team, had promptly initiated a rescue operation of the occupants of the fishing vessel and handed over the rescued occupants of the vessel to the NIMASA, Team on arrival with their rescue Boat, which was said to have anchored at OSHE HONMI OML, 100.
The NIMASA, rescue Team, could easily respond to the Total Energies EP, Nigeria Limited, distress call, because it has all the maritime security equipment that is needed to rescue the fishing vessel and its occupants. Former President Muhammadu Buhari, had approved $195 million to procure 16 armoured vehicles for Coastal Patrol, 17 fast interception Boats, three Helicopters, t two special mission vessels, two special mission aircrafts and four Aerial vehicles, which is domiciled in NIMASA, for the Deep Blue Project.
This in addition to the agency recent procurement of five enforcement vessels to enhance its Flag, Port State, Search and Rescue operations in Nigerian water ways. Informed sources told The Value News that it was one of the fast interception Boats that was deployed for the rescue operation of the occupants of the distressed fishing vessel that had been adrift at the Atlantic Ocean for about 11 days awaiting to be rescued.
Maritime analysts believe that both for the quick intervention of the NI ASA Team, all the occupants of the distressed fishing vessel could have downed. The agency had engaged the services of the officials of its Search and Rescue, SARS, Clinic who were said to have to have provided first aid, and later comprehensive medical attention to the distressed occupants of the fishing vessel, who speaks only Portuguese, according to a NIMASA, source.
The rescued occupants of the distressed fishing vessel belonging to a national of Sao Tome, Principe, were said to have been handed over to the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, for proper profiling and to ensure safe return to their home country.
An appreciative Jamoh, the NIMASA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, who could not hide his feelings over the good job done by the agency’s operation Team who were on ground at the scene of the incident around OML 100, at the ocean, was said to have ‘’applauded the cooperation between the agency and Total Energies for the swift response’’.
Many believe that the NIMASA, Director General, could easily give orders for the deployment the agency operation Team around the OML 100, at the Atlantic ocean, to rescue the occupants of the distressed fishing Sao Tome, Principe fising vessel because of his policy statement on assumption of office on March 10, 2020 : Paying attention on Safety, Security and Ship Development, regarded in maritime circles as the three ”S” slogan.
He had declared that ‘’safety of the nation’s maritime sector, which was part of the three-point agenda of the Administration would be cardinal to the current management of the agency under his Leadership.
Hear him: We will continue to prioritise safety of lives and property in the nation’s maritime domain, while also embracing collaboration as a tool to actualizing the agency mandate. ‘’Safety is everyone’s business, hence we must continue to preach safety in the day- to- day affairs of the Nigerian Maritime sector’’, he had further said. Note that SOLAS, Convention which is an IMO Protocol, has been ratified by the Nigerian government with NIMASA, as the implementing agency.
Recall that on February 2, 2023, a total of seven distressed workers on MT ALIMA, were said to have rescued by the agency Deep Blue Team. The Safety officer on the MT ALIMA, was said to have sent a distress call to Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General that while cleaning up the tanks of the vessel owned by a private company, eight of the workers developed complications due to insufficient oxygen available in the tank to sustain them.
Given his cardinal policy of safety for the nation’s maritime sector, he was said to have immediately directed the agency Head of Deep Blue Project and Head of the Maritime Safety Department, to deploy one of the fast interception Boats for the rescue operations. They were said to have also been directed by the NIMASA, CEO, to provide medical attention for the survivors, which they did.