The Federal Government has warned shipowners that as from December 31st, 2021 single-hull tankers will no longer be registered to trade in the Nigerian territorial waters. Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, gave out the warning on Friday evening, in Lagos, during the official flag-off removal of wrecks and derelicts littering the Nigerian waterways.
He reiterated the commitment of the maritime administration to the directive of the Federal Government for a phase-out of the single-hall in the country starting from December 31st.
The Director General warned that as from that date onwards, no such vessels would be registered by the NIMASA Registry to operate in the Nigerian waters. He said as a maritime administration, NIMASA’s firm decision on the phase-out of the single-hull tankers was to ensure that shipping merchants “stop seeing our waters as the burial site for their deformed and irreparable equipment and vessels.
They must no longer be allowed to abandon their ships in Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). We must stop acquiring defective vessels with little or no lifespan value and importing them to sink in our waters.”
Jamoh further said that for many years, such old and unserviceable vessels have been allowed to litter Nigeria’s waters thus causing serious safety problems for the shipping community. According to him, there can never be shipping development without first ensuring a safe and navigable water corridor for vessels. “Our maritime channels must be free of all forms of encumbrances that can damage ships and imperil the lives of sailors and seafarers.
Our oceans and coastal waters must be clear for cargo to be delivered securely for our collective economic benefit,” Jamoh stressed. Nigeria’s December 31st, 2021 single-hull tankers phase-out date is coming after some delays and shifts in dates by NIMASA and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) which initially gave the deadline of 2015.
After the sinking of vessel Erika off the coast of France in December 1999, IMO proposed accelerating phase-out of singlehull ships. As regards what will happen to the wreck after removal from the waters, Jamoh disclosed that Bayelsa State has reached an agreement with NIMASA to provide counterpart funding for the Wreck Recycling exercise that will follow the removal.
“The Nigerian Railways Corporation (NRC) has offered it’s century-old foundry to be remodelled and modernized while we also have invited an international technical partner, NALEDI Foundry from South Africa to form a tripartite agreement so that these wrecks we are removing from our waters today can become useful materials in the future for the manufacturing of rail parts, vehicle parts, recycled sheets and iron for industry and manufacturing while also creating jobs for thousands of our unemployed youths.
In his speech before flagging-off the removal, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike disclosed that the Federal Government has stated that it plans to open up Nigeria’s maritime sector for investment opportunities as it reduces bottlenecks in the sector, including wrecks along the creeks.
The Minister praised the DG of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, for launching the scheme, citing that the venture of clearing Nigeria’s waterways of wrecks, apart from guaranteeing better safety of navigation, opened up the prospects of many new investments in the maritime industry. The value of wrecks in the Lagos waters alone has been put at over N30 billion.