A Nigerian, Surveyor Olumide Omotosho, an hydrographer with the Nigerian Ports Authority, Vice President of the Nigerian Hydrographic Society, was recently appointed Vice Chairman of the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO) in France. In this interview with Godwin Oritse,Omotosho argued that a well harnessed hydrographic industry could generate a million job opportunities for Nigerians. Excerpts:
What is Hydrograph?
Hydrography is a branch of science in engineering field where we use solar systems and other allied equipment to determine the depth of the water, the position of the depth and other ancillary components around the water ways .
We monitor the coastal processes, we do pre-dredge survey, we determine when to dredge, how to dredge and compute the volume of dredging.
We do modeling; we do siltation studies, geo-physical surveys and all that .Hydrography is a big branch of the maritime sector and it needs to be independent, so that we can tap the benefits that come with it.
Hydrography can help in the unemployment situation, because it can absorb about 1,000,000 jobs opportunities because it is a virgin area. In the whole of Nigeria, there is no standard hydrographic school, three or four building capacity institution is not too small for Nigeria.
We need to develop this capacity so that we can even export these products to West African countries so that we can get revenue. So the multiplier effect of hydrography is great in terms of economic benefits to the maritime sector.
What is the implication of your election to the office of Vice of the International Hydrographic Organisation for Nigeria?
Well as for Nigeria, the government has a lot to benefit in that, for the first time in the history of this nation, we were elected as the Vice Chairman of a very strategic Committee, the strategic capacity building Sub- Committee of IHO and Nigeria stands to gain in the sense that we can marshal all the capacity building plans in the maritime sector especially in the hydrographic sub-sector and be able to develop capacity and have a school perhaps, a training or research institution that can really develop hydrography.
Another strategic importance is that our election is now a challenge to Nigeria, such that we need to have a National Hydrographic Commission that will develop capacity in this sector.
For now there is no institution that is managing hydrography, hydrography is subsumed under the maritime sector which is a negative scenario for the nation.
How does this impact on the maritime industry?.
Well, the good thing about is that we are all talking about Cabotage, talking about shipping policies and all that, unfortunately, the backbone of any maritime nation is hydrography.
Without you charting your waters and knowing navigable water ways that are accessible, you cannot develop shipping.
So the good thing about this, is that we will make like a pressure group and compel government to see reasons that IHO has elevated Nigeria to strategic a Committee, meaning that they are challenging the nation to make it that we develop capacity in hydrography and also put an institution in place that will regulate and do other things that are hydrograhic related.
How does hydrography aid navigation and particularly maritime trade?
Well for any activity you want to carry out in the water ways, the first thing you need to do is to check whether the water is navigable, to see whether you need to dredge it , check where you need to put your navigational aids to help shipping.
If you do not do these things, there is no way a ship will come into your waters.
So the first thing you will want to do is to survey your waters by carrying out bathometric surveys knowing how to manage the water ways.
It is a strategic thing for us to develop capacity in Nigeria in this regard, and the maritime sector can have a boost and this will lead to the development of nautical charts where every mariner can be comfortable with a view to knowing where and where to site your infrastructure.
And in the management of the coastal waterways, you need to know the navigable areas.