The Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, has said that the maritime sector was being opened up for great investment opportunities given the ongoing removal of wrecks.
Amaechi made this known on Friday, in Lagos, at the official launch of the removal of wrecks along the Badagry creek from Tincan Island to Navy Town, Lagos.
He also commended Dr Bashir Jamoh, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), for the initiative.
He said that the creative venture of clearing our waters of wrecks and derelicts, apart from guaranteeing better safety of navigation, opened up the prospects of many new investments in the maritime industry.
Amaechi said the exercise would tremendously enhance the Federal Government’s economic diversification drive and enhance Nigeria’s standing in the global maritime community.
The Minister, who stressed the autonomous status of each of the agencies under the Federal Ministry of Transportation, added that all the heads of the agencies were appointed on the basis of their competence and expertise.
Earlier, Jamoh said the successful removal of the wrecks and derelicts would restore confidence in Nigerian waters, as well as eliminate obstacles to smooth, safe, and profitable navigation.
Jamoh commended the Minister for pushing the wreck removal idea through the Federal Executive Council.
He also cited the launch of the wreck removal exercise as another milestone in the incremental achievement of the Triple S strategy of the current Management of NIMASA, anchored on Maritime Safety, Maritime Security, and Shipping Development.
He said: “These wrecks inhibit the operation of shipping companies, which constantly strive to increase efficiency in order to remain in business.
“As a result, most of the shipping companies usually avoid operating or investing in areas where navigational hazards are identified due to high insurance premium charges.”
Jamoh said that the cost of shipping would drop for the benefit of mariners and other stakeholders in the maritime industry with the elimination or reduction of the costs associated with insurance, survey and charting of wrecks.
He said that other benefits to be derived, upon completion of the exercise, would extend to other areas of maritime core functions such as search and rescue services, Cabotage monitoring, as well as prevention and mitigation of marine pollution.
The NIMASA chief executive noted that the administration was responsible for ensuring safety and security at sea and regulating the maritime industry, in line with international laws and conventions, principally, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and the Convention of the International Maritime Organisation.
“In line with this mandate and in recognition of the importance of safety of navigation in maritime administration, the agency has established the need for the removal of critical wrecks along the Badagry creek,” he said.
Jamoh had disclosed at a Ministerial retreat organised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation in August that arrangements had been concluded for the recycling of wrecks and derelicts recovered during the wreck removal exercise.
He said this would be done in partnership with the Bayelsa Government and the Nigerian Railway Corporation which already has a foundry in Lagos for wrecks recycling.
According to him, the ultimate aim of the exercise was to create wealth from waste, while providing jobs for Nigerians.
Also, Mr Nasir Raji, Managing Director, Ragi Industries Ltd., said that his organisation was ready to be part of the steel business that would be sourced from the wrecks worth more than N30billion.
“We are ready to buy the wreck, recycle them and push back internally in Nigeria,” he said.
Similarly, the Acting Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, noted that the presence of the wrecks had been an impediment to operations.
According to him, a legal framework will be instituted to ensure its total eradication.
He said that the exercise offered an opportunity for a value chain for employment when all the abandoned vessels were confiscated and removed from the waterways.
Dignitaries in attendance included the President, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria, Dr MkGeorge Onyung, Executive Director, Finance and Administration, NIMASA, Mr Chudi Offodile and the Executive Director, Operations, Mr Shehu Ahmed.
The Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Mr Victor Ochei was also in attendance. (NAN)