Following the Federal Executive Council (FEC)’s approval, there is an indication that the proposed removal of over 3,000 shipwrecks littering Nigerian coastline will cost government N2.65 trillion ($5.4 billion). It was learnt that removal of wrecks is capital intensive as it costs not less than $1.8 million to tow a vessel from seabed posing threat to navigational safety and hazards in the marine environment.
To actualise this, government has said that the wrecks will be removed in phases and it has commissioned contractors to identify the wrecks and locations in order to have safe navigation. Also, it has approved the removal of the wrecks from Badagry to Tincan Island waterways in order to ensure smooth navigation on Nigerian waters. Some of the wrecks and derelicts are domiciled in Lagos, Delta, Onne, Rivers and Calabar port channels.
The Director-General, NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh, said in Lagos that the removal of shipwrecks would soon commence, following the stakeholders anxiety over the impending dangers the wrecks posed on the nation’s waters. He said: “Navigation on our waters is very dangerous now due to shipwrecks. Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) have responsibilities of removing wrecks. Previously, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had declared plans on how to implement Nairobi Convention on ship wrecks.
The Nairobi Convention on wreck removal of 2007, which came into force on April 14, 2015, states that if a ship is declared wreck, the country’s maritime administration should publish information to that effect. Under the convention, the owner of the wreck is expected to remove it within a certain period and if they don’t, it is declared a wreck and the maritime administration can now remove it and the owners would pay surcharge and pick up the wreck. However, the country has no ship scrapping and recycling yard to dispose the vessels. Because of this challenge, some ship owners were forced to tow their wrecks to Asia for recycling while those who could not afford the cost of towing abandoned their wrecks in the nation’s waterways, which pose threat to navigational safety.
According to the former President of Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Greg Ogbeifun, Nigeria had lost huge revenue to other countries due to lack of ship recycling yard. He noted that some shipowners in the country had to go to China before their ships could be scrapped with huge amount of money. Ogbeifun noted that ship recycling allowed materials from the ship to be made into new products. He added that modern ships have a lifespan of between 25 and 30 years before refitting, repair, corrosion and metal fatigue. He stressed that lack of spare parts had rendered some of them uneconomical to operate.
Ogbeifun also said that the ship recycling yards could be a panacea to revamping Nigeria steel industry, noting that a vibrant ship recycling sector would drive industrialisation. He stressed that the high number of ship wrecks and scraps in Nigerian waterways could feed the steel industry as well as offer huge financial projects to the shipping, manufacturing, agriculture and service industry.