Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi said removing billions of naira worth of wreckage from the country’s waterways would bring more investment opportunities to the maritime sector.
Amaechi explained this at the flag-off of the national wreck removal exercise along Badagry Creek in Lagos by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The minister said the creative endeavor to clear the country’s waters of wrecks and wrecks, in addition to ensuring better safety for shipping, offers business opportunities for many investors.
He added that this would help the federal government’s economic diversification and strengthen Nigeria’s standing in the global maritime community.
“Where there is no safe navigation, merchant ships would not want to go there because it would damage their ships. I have assured the NIMASA Director General that we will go back to the Cabinet to apply for funds to clear wreckage in other parts of the country. At the end of the day we would look at a fuller picture of the Nigerian waterways so that it is not just about Lagos, ”the minister said.
NIMASA Director General Bashir Jamoh also said that successful removal of the wrecks would restore confidence in Nigerian waters and remove obstacles to smooth, safe and profitable navigation.
Jamoh said the start of the wreck removal drill marks another milestone in the gradual realization of the new strategy of the current management of NIMASA, which is focused on maritime safety, maritime safety and maritime development.
He said these wrecks are stifling the operation of shipping companies that are constantly striving for efficiencies in order to stay in business.
He said eliminating or reducing costs related to insurance, surveying and mapping of wrecks and shipping costs would benefit seafarers and other stakeholders in the maritime industry.
Regarding the benefits of the wreck removal exercise, Jamoh said it would be derived upon completion of the exercise, which would be expanded to other areas of core maritime functions such as search and rescue, cabotage surveillance, and pollution prevention and mitigation.
Jamoh also reiterated that the recycling of wrecks and debris that would be recovered during the wreck removal drill would be in collaboration with the Bayelsa state government and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), which already has a foundry in Lagos for wreck recycling operates with the ultimate goal of creating wealth from waste while creating jobs for Nigerians.
Raji Industries General Manager Abdulnasir Raji spoke about Converting Waste to Wealth, a ship recycling investor who expressed his willingness to buy the wrecks from NIMASA and use them as raw materials to build infrastructure.
He said, “There are about 200 wrecks on the Lagos waterways, each weighing about 5,000 tons, making about 200,000 tons of iron and steel valued at over N 30 billion at the bottom of the Lagos waterways. If Nigeria allowed this, we would like to buy some of the wrecks to recycle and use internally for Nigerian industry. ”
Regarding the safety of navigation, the Acting General Manager of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) Muhammed Bello-Koko assured that his agency fully supports the wreck removal and asked NIMASA to identify critical wrecks that are most likely to end up in the canal as soon as possible.
He complained that one of the recent problems is that the owners of ships abandoned on the waters go to court when notices of removal of their ships are issued.
He said, “There are many abandoned ships on the Nigerian waterways and the ship abandoned today could be the wreck tomorrow, so there should be data on all abandoned ships. The owners of the ships should be notified to either take them away, or there should be a legal framework that allows us to auction them off. “
In his message of goodwill, Dr. McGeorge Onyung, President of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), urged the Minister of Transport to pay more attention to the maritime sector, especially as foreigners make huge profits from the country’s sector.
According to him, in the first two quarters of 2021 alone, eleven giant international shipping companies made no less than $ 50 billion in profit from cargo pickup, and Nigeria cannot afford to watch it.