A new light has been shed on the controversy between Nigerian Liquefied and Natural Gas (NLNG) and other shipping firms operating along Bonny channel over alleged blocking of the common-user channel by NLNG vessels.
Speaking with Shipping Position Daily, Unit Chairman NLNG of the Maritime Workers Union (MWUN) Comrade Eguzoro Oliver said that other vessels had to be chased out of the channel for NLNG vessels, because it is classified that Nigerian vessels are not seaworthy.
He said that getting close to the NLNG vessel could spell disaster for all operators along the channel as the fumes from the other ships could trigger an explosion.
He said that the situation is further compounded because the Bonny channel is not so deep.
Comrade Oliver said "because of the depth they use thug boats to move the vessel gradually.
He said: ‘’If we (NLNG) are passing, no other vessel can come near us, the security boats pursue all other vessels away for our vessel, because we are carrying dangerous cargo for security, for safety and every other reason".
"Also because it is classified that Nigerian vessels are not seaworthy so for safety reason, the gas coming out from them can trigger an explosion", he added.
Continuing he said "abroad if you take your vessel to any port, there is a place you get to and they will ask you to stop your engine. Almost a year now, a thug boat capsized and NLNG had to come and tow it away".
He also lamented that seafarers who are members of the union bear most of the brunt of sea piracy.
According to him, many seafarers’ lives have been lost, while some have lost their boats. In some instances where sea pirates attack, he said that everyone is thrown overboard.
"We bear most of the brunt of piracy; our members lose boats and their lives, whenever a vessel is attacked, they would ask everybody to jump into the water, even if you don't know how to swim, it is between you and your God"
"We don't have a record of the vessels in the country. In other countries, before a vessel gets near the fairway buoy you would be stopped, customs would come onboard and other security agents would come onboard" he said
Shipping firms had last week appealed to the Managing Director of Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman to intervene in the alleged blocking of channel by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG).
In a petition dated November 17, 2017, signed by Pius N Amam and Nwauzor G. E. onbehalf of Berthing Commimittee, Onne Port Complex, the shipping companies accused NLNG of “Channel blocking against other ships movement when NLNG Vessels are berthing or sailing”.