By Stephen Ubanna
Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state and now, President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, minister of Transportation, has joined the league of Nasiru El-Rufai, governor of Kaduna State and he Organisers of the Zik Prestigious Award Committee, to applaud Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, for his enterprise.
Amaechi was said to have opened up on the NIMASA Director General, on Friday, September 24, 2021, when he flagged off the removal of shipwrecks and derelicts from Nigerian waters which over the years had adversely affected ‘’the free movement of ocean going vessels and boats in Nigerian waters.
The minister had said that the removal of the ship wreckage and derelicts in the Nigerian waters was ‘‘the idea of the Maritime Regulatory agency Director General’’, stressing that all the heads of the agencies under the ministry Transportation are appointed on the basis of their ‘’competence and expertise’’. Perhaps, this may have been informed why Jamoh, has put Nigeria on the world maritime map as one of the nation’s to be reckoned with in the recent time.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the he NIMASA, Director General, may have been encouraged to set the machinery in motion for the removal of the ship wrecks and derelicts in Nigerian waters when the Federal Executive Council, FEC granted the request of the agency through Amechi, the minister of Transportation, to go ahead with the removal all the abandoned ship wrecks and derelicts in Nigerian waterways in order to clear Navigational routes for safe shipping last April.
The ship wrecks and derelicts removal, according to informed sources was said to have been split into phases for easy removal. The April approval that was said to have been granted to the agency to remove the abandoned ship wreckages and derelicts may have been the First phase of the exercise. The success achieved in the implementation of this first phase of the exercise would determine how soon the FEC, would give approval for the commencement of thesecond phase of the exercise.
Based on the mandate that have been given to the agency by the FEC, to proceed with the removal of the abandoned ship wrecks in the Nigerian waters, the NIMASA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, may have gladdened the heart of industry stakeholders last August when he stated that the agency is set to flag -off the intensive wrecks and derelict removal exercise in Nigerian waters. Recall that while celebrating his first 100 days I office , in June, 2020, the NIMASA, boss had hinted that N10 billion would be spent to remove the ship wrecks and derelicts from the Nigerian maritime domain.
Until his removal from office in March 10, 2020, Peterside, had said that there are over 3,000 shipwrecks and derelicts littering the country’s coastline which had continued to affect the smooth navigation in Nigeria waters. Many believe that the delay over the removal of the shipwrecks and derelicts may have been delayed over the last one year because of the tussle between the three ministry of Transportation agencies: NIMASA, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA and the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, to do the job. NIMASA, had said that it is their Constitutional Responsibility to remove the abandoned wrecks in Nigerian waters. NPA and NIWA, had drawn their powers to remove the shipwrecks based otheir respective Acts of establishment. They got it wrong.
The Management of NIMASA, may have been encouraged to commission some contractors to identify the wrecks and locations, when NPA and NIWA, finally agreed that it was not their responsibility to get involved in ship wreckage removal in Nigerian waters but that of NMASA.
Prior to the two agencies arriving at the decision, Jamoh, who remained committed to the removal of the shipwrecks had consistently made it clear to NIWA, past and present Managements of NPA, that NIMASA,‘’is the only agency charged with ‘’the responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of vessels in Nigerian waters as well as regulating the nation’s maritime industry in line with the international Laws, Codes and Conventions for the safety of Life at Sea, SOLASA, Convention of the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, a maritime agency of the United Nations, UN’’.
He had said that ‘’in line with the mandate and in recognisance of the importance of safety of navigation, in maritime Administration, the world-over, the agency had established the need for removal of the critical wrecks along the Badagry Creek’’, as a prelude to removing the entire ship wreckage and derelicts in the nation’s coastline.
Recall that during a ministerial retreat organised by the supervisory ministry of Transportation last August, Jamoh, had revealed that arrangements for the recycling of the shipwrecks and derelicts with the Bayelsa state government and the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, had been concluded .
Note that the NRC, has a Foundry n Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre for wrecks recycling, with the ultimate aim of creating wealth from waste which had been underutilised over the years. This may have informed why the NIMASA, Director General, had told those that cares to listen that the exercise may not have started now as ‘’the first phase of the wrecks and derelicts removal had actually been flagged-off along the Badagry Creek’’.
Amechi, the minister of Transportation had assured ship owners that with the removal of the shipwrecks that litter the country’s coastline, the maritime sector was being opened up for great investment opportunities. He was emphatic that the clearing of the country’s waterways of its shipwrecks and derelicts apart from’’ guaranteeing better safety of navigation, would fully open up the sector to new investments opportunities in the industry that would compete with other maritime nations cross the globe.
An elated Amaechi, may have spoken the mind of the Katsina state born Nigerian President when he disclosed that the shipwrecks and derelict removal exercise from the Nigerian waterways will ‘‘tremendously help the government’s economic diversification drive and further, enhance the country’s standing within the global maritime community’’.
Given the importance attacked to the flagg-off the shipwrecks and derelict removal exercise, may have informed why the minister ensured that the key players in the industry, Jamoh, the NIMASA, boss, Mohammed Koko, acting Managing Director , NPA, Nasir Ragi, Director, Raji Industries Limited, George Onyung, President, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria, SOAN, event.
The entire NIMASA entire Management Team: Chudi Ofodile, Executive Directors, Finance and Administrations, Shehu Ahmed , Operations and Victor Ochei, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, had accompanied Jamoh, the agency Director General to theevent.