By Steve Agbota, [email protected]

As the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) commenced intensive wreck removal  in Nigerian waters nationwide.

It was anticipated that the excercise would open up investment opportunities in the maritime sector.

The removal of the wrecks littering the waters became necessary, as it would boost investors’ confidence in the area of shipping trade, reduce insurance premium and also make the nation’s waters safer.

Daily Sun learnt that presently, the metal wastes in the nation’s waterways could produce over 200,000 tonnes of steel worth over N30 billion. The ultimate aim of the exercise was to create wealth from the metal wastes while creating for Nigerians.

However, NIMASA had concluded arrangements for the recycling of wrecks and derelicts recovered from the waters in partnership with Bayelsa State government and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), which already has a foundry in Lagos for wrecks recycling, with the ultimate aim of creating wealth from waste while providing jobs for Nigerians.

At the flag-off of the wreck removal last week in Lagos, Minister of Transportation,  Chibuike Amaechi, declared that the maritime sector was being opened up for great investment opportunities with the exercise.

Conversely,  Amaechi commended  the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, for the initiatiting the idea of the wreck removal across the country, adding that the creative venture of clearing the nation’s waters of wrecks and derelicts, apart from guaranteeing better safety of navigation, opens up the prospects of many new investments in the maritime industry.

“This would tremendously help the Federal Government’s economic diversification drive and enhance Nigeria’s standing within the global maritime community,” he said.

The Minister stressed the autonomous status of each of the agencies under the Federal Ministry of Transportation, stating that all the heads of the agencies are appointed on the basis of competence and expertise.

The Minister, therefore, said he would always support imaginative ideas from the Chief Executive, adding that it was the NIMASA boss’ idea that we should remove wrecks from the nation’s waters.   

In his speech, Jamoh said the successful removal of the wrecks and derelicts would restore confidence in Nigerian waters, and eliminate obstacles to smooth, safe, and profitable navigation. He thanked the minister for pushing the wreck removal idea through the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

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Jamoh said the commencement of the wreck removal exercise was another milestone in the incremental achievement of the Triple S strategy of the current management of NIMASA, anchored on Maritime Safety, Maritime Security, and Shipping Development.

“These wrecks inhibit the operation of shipping companies, which constantly strive to increase efficiency in order to remain in business.

“As a result, most of the shipping companies usually avoid operating or investing in areas where navigational hazards are identified due to high insurance premium charges.”

He said with the elimination or reduction of the costs associated with insurance, survey and charting of wrecks, the cost of shipping would drop, to the benefit of mariners and other stakeholders in the maritime industry. On the benefits of the exercise, he said: “it is pertinent to state that the benefits that would be derived upon completion of the exercise extend to other areas of maritime core functions, such as search and rescue services, cabotage monitoring, as well as prevention and mitigation of marine pollution.”

He said NIMASA is charged with the responsibility of ensuring safety and security at sea as well as regulating the maritime industry in line with international laws and conventions, principally, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

“In line with this mandate and in recognition of the importance of safety of navigation in maritime administration, the Agency has established the need for removal of critical wrecks along the Badagry Creek,” he said.

Meanwhile, the acting Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko, opined that wreck removal should commence with critical wrecks that are within 1km from the nation’s ports.

He, however, stressed that abandoned vessels today become wrecks in the near future and noted the need for a legal provision to enable NIMASA to auction such abandoned water crafts.

Bello-Koko expressed delight at the agency’s strategy to explore the value-chain with the wrecks via recycling, adding that it would create job opportunities for Nigeria’s teeming youths.

Earlier, the Managing Director of Raji Industries, Mr. Nasir Malik, had disclosed that Nigerian waterways currently house wrecks capable of producing over 200,000 tonnes of steel estimated to be worth about N30 billion.

He said that his company, which specializes in making steel doors and other companies of similar profile, would explore the opportunity to access wrecks as raw materials for their production.