By Godfrey Bivbere
Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is to charge owners of unseaworthy ships forced to the beach from their anchorage at the Lagos break waters the cost of moving them from the beach.
Disclosing this in Lagos recently, Director-General of NIMASA, Temisan Omatseye, said the affected vessels would be made to foot the bill for the removal of such vessels if they are known.
Omatseye explained that the priority is the security of the nationâ€™s waterways and the protection of the eco-system first before the focus would be shifted to refund from the owners of the ships.
He explained that they have concluded arrangement to move in heavy tug boat with long chains from Port Harcourt to clear the wrecks from the beach side in four weeks, noting further that the process would involve working on one of the affected ships for two days each.
He also pointed out that the committee on wreck removal would soon embark on assessment of all the ships at anchorage along the Lagos break waters and identify those that could be classified as wrecks with a view to moving them out of the area to prevent future occurrence.
It would be recalled that heavy storm over the weekend forced 16 unseaworthy vessels anchored at the Lagos break waters to the beach side.
The NIMASA boss said the storm resulted into a strong line stroll and subsequent rough sea and strong winds forced the ships to drift from the Lagos anchorage into light house beach spread over five nautical miles.
He explained that while ten of the ships were forced to the beach side, the other six were moved by the storm to the Lekki area of Lagos.
He noted that the serious nature of the incident made him call the Minister of Transport, Ahlaji Ibrahim Bio who directed him (Timisa) to commence the process of removal of the ships.
He gave the name of some of the vessels as Hollgan Star, a coastal tanker, Arcturus No. 3, an LPG tanker, Sunshine also an LPG tanker, Morlap Trader belonging to the chairman of the Indigenous Shipowners Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Chief Isaac Jolapamo and one unidentified tanker.
The others according to him are Penil, a coastal tanker whose hull is heavily covered with marine growth, Odyssey (ex Whitkirk), a coastal tanker, F.K Badmus also a coastal vessel which was found flat on keel with its bow facing the beach, Ella L, a coastal vessel found sitting on top of another older wreck which had been in the same position earlier and an unidentified coastal tanker.