By Eguono Odjegba
FOLLOWING the current global struggle with Coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic and the need to mitigate the spread of the virus in Nigeria through shipping activities, Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, has banned vessels without thermal screening facilities from operating in Nigerian waters.
This is in addition to developing guidelines to monitor and support all types of ships operating in the Nigerian maritime domain.
A statement made available to Vanguard Maritime Report by the Agency’s Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Itsiche Osamgbi, quoted Dr. Jamoh as saying that the purpose of the new guidelines was to help shipping companies and all maritime stakeholders to follow shipping advice provided by United Nations agencies including the World Health Organization, WHO, the International Maritime Organization, IMO, and the International Labour Organization, ILO, as well as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC.
Jamoh further stated that the outbreak of the virus has necessitated stringent measures that can help curb the spread while not totally grounding the Nigerian economy.
He said: “These are trying times and we must pull through together, that is why we have directed that all maritime stakeholders develop risk assessments and safety intervention guidelines for their personnel and operations on the areas of vulnerabilities of their maritime operations that can be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic including but not limited to offshore operations such as crew/personnel changes, visits from onshore and other locations for provision of supplies, maintenance and repairs, etc.”
He also disclosed that the Agency would publish an elaborate guidance which will also include schedule for ongoing offshore operations requiring new crew or crew changes from affected countries to ensure that pre-departure tests for COVID-19 are conducted on such persons, and self-isolation procedures for the prescribed period are instituted for such new crew/personnel before exposure to other personnel.
Jamoh stressed that only international marine vessel which had planned and informed of their call into a Nigerian port not later than February 1, 2020 may be allowed to call on such port adding that any international marine vessel or any member of its crew or passenger therein having a travel history of visiting any of the COVID-19 affected countries since February 1, 2020, shall not be permitted to enter any Nigerian port from March 30, 2020 till April 12, 2020. He said this is in addition to any further dates as may be reviewed from time to time.
The NIMASA director general also pointed out that all passengers and crew members must fill the ‘Self Reporting Form’ as prescribed by Nigerian Port Health Authorities adding that Port Health Officers shall carry out thermal screening of all passengers and crew members on board ship, noting that until clearance is given by the PHO, no passenger and or crew member would be allowed ashore.
It would be recalled that in the fight against the deadly COVID-19, NIMASA recently donated 20 ventilators as well as six fast intervention vessels to facilitate transport logistics support in the maritime sector. The agency also donated four fully equipped new Ambulances, four Hilux and four 36 sitter coaster buses to facilitate land based logistics in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos, Delta, Rivers, Cross River and Kaduna states along with cash donations to some of the states who have reported cases of the pandemic.