COVID-19 HITS MARITIME INDUSTRY    

· Ukrainian Sailor Tests Positive, NPA, Shippers’ Council, NIMASA On Lockdown 

 A Ukrainian sailor who arrived in Nigeria on board a ship which berthed at Lagos seaport is one of the latest addition to the rapidly-growing list of people who have already tested positive to the deadly Coronavirus pandemic.

Although further details of the Ukrainian sailor were not disclosed, the Lagos State Ministry of Health nevertheless confirmed three new cases of COVID-19 pandemic on Monday, among which was the sailor.

According to the state government, the Ukrainian arrived in Nigeria on March 15 via a vessel.

This development, may have heightened fears among stakeholders in the nation’s maritime sector, where the leading agencies, namely the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, the Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) have directed their staff to stay off work, until further notice.

On Tuesday, spokesperson of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)’ Mr Isiche Osamgbi told our correspondent that, in line with the directive of the Federal Government, the agency has also directed its staff away from work.

He confirmed that, employees from level 12 down are expected to stay off work for now. “You know we are an essential service organisation, so there will be rotation and shifting”, he explained. 

The Nigerian Ports Authority had on Monday, ordered the shutdown of its offices across the country for two weeks, in deference to the spread of the deadly Covid-19 in the country. 

The NPA shutdown came barely 24hours after the Nigerian Shippers’ Council announced the shutdown of its offices to contain the spread, allowing only officers on essential service to come to the office. 

In the NPA memo to its staff, with reference number HQ/CR/AD/G.2, the managing director, Hadiza Bala Usman said officers from non-essential divisions and departments of the authority are advised to stay away from duty and work from home. 

The essential divisions and departments to report for work according together memo, are the managing director, Executive director, Finance and admin, medical services, marine and operations, among others. 

The managing director however advised all members of staff to adhere strictly to preventive measures to forestall further spread of the virus. 

“Members of staff are advised to be conscious of their health and safety by adhering to the preventive measures put in place by the Medical Division of the Authority and other relevant government agencies. ?Staffers are also enjoined to strictly comply with this directive,” the memo reads.

When our correspondent visited the Nigerian Shippers’ Council’s office in Apapa on Tuesday, it was observed that the gates were locked and there was no entrance into the premises.

Security personnel politely told our correspondent that no one would be allowed in. "You can't go into the office now they are temporarily closed down for now as a way to curtail the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus" 

"If any of staff asked you to come, call the person to confirm because nobody is on seat for now" he told our correspondent.  

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