By Godwin Oritse & Godfrey Bivbere
IN a bid to ensure safe and secure shipping on the Nigerian territorial waters, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has warned all owners of abandoned Ships/Vessels to urgently remove same from the Nigerian territorial waters within the next three weeks.
Wrecks that are not removed within the next 21 days risk sanctions ranging from forfeiture or removal by the Agency at the owners expense.
The Director General of the Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who stated this recently in Lagos noted that it is instructive to ensure that our waters remain safe for navigation in order to advance our maritime interests.
He warned that all abandoned ships would be declared as wrecks and the Agency would ensure that nothing impedes safe navigation in our waters by removing them.
He stated: “In line with our mandate on the protection of the marine environment and safety of navigation within Nigerian waters and our powers as the receiver of wrecks; owners of all abandoned ships, vessels and derelicts are sternly warned to seek removal plan permits from the Agency and ensure the removal of these wrecks and derelicts from our waters on or before April 28th, 2017, failure of which would attract appropriate sanction”.
The NIMASA boss also reeled out the sanctions to include removal of such wrecks at the owners’ expense as well as forfeiture of the vessels, stating that the Agency is empowered to do so in line with the powers vested in it by the Merchant Shipping Act 2007 and other enabling Acts and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) instruments.
Nigeria is party to the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks (Nairobi Convention 2007).
The Convention is a treaty of the IMO with the purpose of prompt and effective removal of Shipwrecks located in the Parties’ territorial waters including its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that may be hazardous to navigation or environment.
The convention gives states’ authority to remove wrecks and in Nigeria’s case NIMASA is the receiver of wrecks.
All abandoned Vessels littering the waterways and the shoreline of the country are affected by this directive.