Minister of Transport Alhaji Ibrahim Isa Bio has stated that it is the intention of Government to work hard towards elevating the current status of the country in international maritime industry. He said that as a step in that direction, Nigeria will work hard to move up from the Category â€œCâ€ status at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council to the more prestigious Category â€œBâ€ at the foreseeable future.
The Honourable Minister stated this yesterday when he inaugurated a Committee on the Auditing, Wrecking, Clearing and Sale of Residual Metals on Nigeria waterways. Speaking further at the inauguration, Alhaji Bio stressed the need to clear our navigational channels of barges and boats as well as abandoned vessels that have constituted hazard to safe navigation. In his words, â€œ It is a matter of utmost concern to note that these seized barges and boats now litter the ports, jetties and channels of several Naval facilities in Warri, Sapele, Lagos, Calabar and Port Harcourt having been detained for long period of time due to bureaucratic bottlenecks and litigation which have hampered their early release.
The clearing of these wrecks from our waterways and navigational channels will further enable us to comply with international standards in the Maritime sector.â€
He thereafter gave the 14_man Committee headed by Rear Admiral Abiodun Olukoya (Rtd) the following terms of reference:
a)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Undertake an assessment audit of barges, boats and vessels generated from the seizure in Calabar, Warri, Port Harcourt, Onne, Lagos and Inland Waterways, and identify their owners and the legal status of their detention or seizure;
b)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Initiate their removal or undertake their wrecking and sale of the Residual Metals/ liquid content in a transparent manner, to members of the Public;
c)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Advise that henceforth, all vessels arrested should be taken to designated lay_bye berths for prompt appropriate auction orÂ disposal;
d)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Advise on any other issues related to the assignment to ensure safety in Maritime environment.
In his response, Rear Admiral Olukoya, assured that with the calibre of members of the committee, their task will be successfully accomplished. He however appealed to the minister to provide necessary logistics and other enablement that will facilitate and enhance their task to ensure submission within timeline.
Other members of the Committee are Barrister Temisan Omatseye , Director_General Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) who is also the Vice Chairman, MrÂ Ishiaku Shekarau Executive Director, Safety (NIMASA)Â as well asÂ representatives of the Nigerian Navy, National Security Adviser, Attorney General of the Federation, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Ministry of Finance and the private sector. Mr Bola Olowosejeje of the Federal Ministry of Transport will serve as the Secretary.The committee has 4 months to submit its report.