Some marine navigation experts have expressed worries over the large chunk of wrecks and derelicts lying under the nations waters across the country.
While blaming the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), an economic and investment consultant, Dr Vincent Nwani, said the abandoned wrecks are impending dangers to navigation on Nigerian waters.
Nwani disclosed that there more than 1000 ships wreck beneath waters across the nation, which are hardly visible for mariners.
He blamed NIMASA for allegedly not living up to expectation as the agency saddled with the responsibility of removing wrecks on our water ways.
According to him “it is noteworthy that with increased patronage of water transportation in the country, there has been a corresponding rise in fatal accidents on the country’s waterways. Official records indicate that 22 out of the 36 states in the country use water as a means of transportation. Nigeria has the second largest waterways in Africa with 8,600 kilometres of inland waterways and an extensive coastland of about 852 kilometres”
He said: “We have an agency that is mandated to improve security and safety of our waterways which is NIMASA, and according to statistics over 1000 ship wrecks currently lies under the Nigeria waterways, in fact Nigeria has now become like a dumping ground for ships that are dying and this is very bad for a country that have an agency that is saddled with that responsibility”
“With the number of wrecks on our waterways it is going to cost Nigeria million of dollars or billions of naira to actually disembark those metal parts and bring them out and ensure that our waterways are safe.
“And the implication of all this, apart from piracy that is prevalent in our waterways and shallow waterways that prevents big ships from coming in, these damaged ships that are owned by foreign entity increase the risk of our waterways and making shipment into Nigeria difficult and at the end of the day these costs are still transferred to the common man in Nigeria, because it impacts the cost of goods and cost of inflation.”.
He urged NIMASA to live up to expectation by taking responsibility to ban or fine owners of the dying ships before it causes greater havoc
“So the way to go is to begin to ban or fine those countries or companies that own those ships, we can trace them, ship is registered everywhere in the world and begin to raise alarm about it. But this is something that NIMASA has to leave their offices and begin to do those works, because that is their mandate.” He said.
Shipping Position Daily also recalls that, the Nigerian Navy about two weeks ago in Lagos, raised alarm about the impending dangers that shipwrecks posed on the Nigerian waters.
The Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, said about 35 submerged shipwrecks have been identified along the busy Lagos channel that provide access into the Tin Can Island port.
He disclosed that just a few months ago, one of the Navy vessels, Nigerian Navy Ship Calabar, was involved in a mishap when it struck a submerged wreck, just in the middle of the channel, thereby causing the government to spend millions of naira which would have been deployed into better and more productive endeavours, if those wrecks were properly removed when they were identified.
Speaking also, the President of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, Captain Tajudeen Alao acknowledged that wrecks on waterways are dangerous to safety of navigation, even as he informed that NIMASA is not the only agency in charge of removing wrecks on our waterways
According to him, “Wreck on the waterways is bad and dangerous to safety of navigation. NIMASA is the receiver of any wrecks removed under our statue books. NPA and NIWA are supposed to be the assistant receivers of the wrecks.
He said, “wrecks in the middle of the navigation channel within the port limits and Harbour may be removed by NPA and handed over to NIMASA while wrecks within inland waters and waterways may be removed by NIWA and handed over to NIMASA”
He however said that many of the agencies have not been able to remove the wrecks due to lack of funds, he urged the government to provide the necessary support for the agencies so as to ensure the safety of lives and ships during navigation.
“Many of these agencies do not have funds to remove wrecks except perhaps NPA and NIWA, so government must provide the necessary support, also all wrecks must be reported and marked as regulation and charted, so that mariners can sight them and plot them and take safety measures to avoid them, so has to ensure the safety of lives during navigation”, he stressed.
Efforts to get the reaction of the Deputy Director of the agency, Mr. Isichei Osamgbi proved abortive as calls and text s messages sent to him were not responded to, as at the time of writing this story.