Some stakeholders at the National Inland Waterways Authority [NIWA] meeting with boat operators last week in Lagos.
An environmentalist; David Omaghomi, has raised alarm that more than 3000 shipwrecks are currently dotting that nation’s coastline, even as he called for enactment and enforcement of laws against to dumping of wrecked ships on the Nigerian coastline.
Omaghomi, Executive Director, Eco Restoration Foundation, an NGO for protection, restoration and conservation of coastal wetlands in Nigeria, made the call in an interview in Lagos.
He said Nigeria had become a dumping ground for wrecked ships because people found it convenient to sink ships from other parts of the world on Nigerian coastal waters to avoid bearing the cost.
He said ship wrecks in turn caused various problems that impacted negatively on the environment, hence the need to improve the capacity of the Nigerian Navy on protection of the nation’s coastlines.
“We have to save our coasts by implementation of policies, legislation and by providing the Nigerian Navy with enough coastal awareness to enforce Nigeria’s territorial integrity, even from environmental hazards like ship wrecks.
“Some people take insurance from insurance companies abroad, they dump the ships on the coasts of Nigeria because they are supposed to spend money on decommissioning the ship.
“When a ship has served its life time, you are supposed to take it to a dockyard and dismember it, recycle the metals, but they avoid such expenses, make money from insurance and they dump in the Nigeria where nobody cares,” said Omaghomi.
“Nigeria has no legislation or enforcement of existing legislations that help people to remove ship wrecks. So people find Nigeria a favourable ground to dump their ships that are no longer in use.
“There are particular winds on the Atlantic Ocean also that push abandoned ships to the Bight of Benin which is the area on the Atlantic coast that Nigerian shorelines fall within,” he told NAN.
Omaghomi said the money approved for some concerned government agencies in annual budgets for the removal of shipwrecks were usually not utilised for the purpose.
He said the Eco Restoration Foundation single-handedly removed a ship wreck causing obstruction at the Lekki Beach, Lagos, in 2016 as part of its efforts to save the environment.
He also called for protection of the Mangrove Ecosystem as a natural means to preserve, protect and conserve the nation’s coastal lines and the environment.
“The laws need to be amended, the Oil Spill Detection Response Agencies need to be empowered to be able to able to enforce investigations and fund it for themselves.
“In other cases, we have absence of laws, we have various laws that do not create the necessary environmental remediation or restoration processes.
“The laws need to be amended, fines need to be punitive, hefty and they need to deter operators from destroying the environment,” he said.