COVID-19: Anxiety As NIMASA Red-Flag Ships Berth At Lagos Port

 Palpable tension enveloped the Nigerian maritime space on Saturday following a red alert issued by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) over the imminent arrival of 13 ships laden with assorted consignments, in some Nigerian ports. According to NIMASA, eight of the vessels are expected to berth in Apapa, Lagos; four in Bonny, Rivers State; and one in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.  In a statement signed by Mr Philip Kyanet, Head of Corporate Communications at NIMASA, the 13 vessels are from five countries that are heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency said it has valid information about the vessels, and that they are expected to arrive at the three Nigerian ports between June 23 and July 17. It added that the information was received through the agency’s Command, Control, Communication, Computer, and Intelligence System (C4i) Centre under the NIMASA Deep Blue Project, which is also called the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure. Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said the need to ensure stakeholders adhered strictly to the guidelines put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria informed the decision to red-flag the vessels. “We are counting on the continued cooperation of frontline government agencies and private sector operators in this regard as we jointly wage the war against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Jamoh stated. 

The Director-General said the advisory was to further alert all agencies of government and private sector operators at the ports of expected arrival of the vessels and to demand the highest level of professionalism from all concerned officers in keeping with the Agency’s earlier advice on the handling of such vessels. He added that operators at the ports should ensure all safety measures and precautions in the best interest of the maritime community and the country were fully applied. 

NIMASA had earlier given an advisory through a marine notice on the operational procedures for the ingress and egress of vessels arriving from such countries. Officers of agencies concerned were requested to immediately report any situation or circumstance that might compromise best practices in handling the arrival and discharge of these vessels and others that might be advised in the future.

Below is the list of vessels and the details of their expected voyage to Nigerian ports. 

NIMASA gave the identities of the ships as: Ebony Ray coming from the United States of America and expected to have arrived at Apapa port since June 23, 2020, Nord Supreme coming from the United Kingdom and expected to have arrived at Apapa port on June 25. Also expected at the Apapa port are: Desert Peace from Houston in the United States of America (USA) on June 26, Shanghai Eagle from Houston in the USA on June 25, Katrina Theresa expected to arrive from Spain on June 25, as well as Desert Hope from Brazil on July1.

Similarly, two other ships, namely: Vectis Osprey and Grande Island are expected at Apapa port, from the USA on July 11.

Five of the red-flagged ships are expected to arrive at Bonny and Port Harcourt port.

Two vessels namely: Gaslog Warsaw, Harmonic from Spain are expected to have berthed at Bonny on June 26 and 27, respectively. Similarly, Stena Clear Sky from India is expected at Bonny on July 4, while LNG BONNY II from India is expected at the same Bonny on July 17. 

Finally, on the list red-flagged by NIMASA is a ship called MUSKY coming from USA to Port Harcourt port.

However, investigations carried out Shipping Position Daily over the weekend however revealed that some of the ships that were red-flagged by NIMASA have already arrived and are berthed at Apapa port, while some were being expected.

For instance, Desert Peace arrived at Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited(ABTL) on Saturday, June 27 with 48,728 metric tons of bulk heat.

Another ship, Desert Hope, loaded with 52,350 metric tons of bulk sugar is also being expected at the same ABTL in Apapa port.

Similarly, it was discovered that another ship that was red-flagged by NIMASA; Shanghai Eagle had already arrived at GDNL terminal at Apapa port 

It was also discovered that, contrary to expectations, a tanker vessel; Ebony Ray, which had been listed by NIMASA as being expected on June 23, is actually expected to arrive at the New Oil Jetty (NOJ) with petrol.   

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