By IFEYINWA OBI
EFFORTS at promoting Safety of life at Sea (SOLAS) received a major boost, as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) constituted the National Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) Committee at the Regional Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (RMRCC) in Kirikiri, Lagos.
Speaking at the event, NIMASA former director-general, Dr. Ade Dosunmu, represented by the agencyâ€™s executive director, finance and administration, Dr. Danjuma Dabo, said the constitution of the committee was a way of ensuring that Nigeria has a good and efficient SAR organisation with the complement of all the communication facilities.
Dosunmu said: â€œIt is universally acknowledged that those engaged at sea, face very stiff challenges. The enormous power of the sea and the inability of man to predict the weather accurately mean that there will always be periods when seamen will find themselves distressed at sea and thereby require assistance. Although obligation to assist ships in distress by fellow seamen had always been enshrined in tradition, some of the western hemisphere maritime nations had established organisations that are over 200 years old (public and private) solely for this purpose. This was largely due to some unacceptable maritime losses at sea and in some cases within sight of the coast especially during the winter or bad weather. Such arrangement includes provision of rescue boats along the coasts of these countries, which are manned in most cases by volunteersâ€.
He explained that as a follow up to this, the IMO in 1979 adopted the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue which was aimed at developing an International SAR plan so that no matter where an accident occurs, the rescue of persons in distress at sea will be coordinated by a SAR organisation and when necessary by cooperation between other neighbouring SAR countries.
According to him, â€œNigeria as a major maritime nation in the sub-region is a signatory to both conventions referred to above. Indeed, Nigeria is the location of one of the five Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) in Africa. In addition, Nigeria has a long coastline with fast growing offshore oil and gas industry. Similarly, the fishing activities within its waters are relatively high and there is a considerable amount of coastal shipping between its eight national portsâ€.