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What NIMASA should be doing at this time of COVID-19 scare – Marine Engineer

Need for Marine Notices to Ship Masters, Shipowners, Agents

As the COVID-19 pandemic threatens public health globally, the Flag Administration, which is the
Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has been tasked on the need to send Marine Notices to Ship Masters, Agents, Ship Managers and Shipowners of vessels calling Nigerian ports and offshore terminals for operational guide to keep safe.

Marine engineer and former Director General of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), Nnajiuno Ogbuagu, at the weekend supported the mariners offshore who demanded a delayed boarding system that would keep shuttle tankers waiting for at least 14 days to ensure no cases of persons sick with the novel COVID-19.

Ogbuagu said:  “I totally support the ideas put forward by the Mariners working offshore. It is a wonderful proposal even though it is the sole responsibility of the Flag Administration (NIMASA) to come up with such initiative and back in up with a clear promulgation of Marine Notices to Ship
Masters, Agents, Ship managers and Shipowners of vessel calling Nigerian Ports and offshore terminals.”
The marine engineer described the expression by the mariners offshore as a wake-up call to NIMASA Management to give clear guidelines and directions to operators in the maritime sectors of the economy.
He was particular of marine operations in offshore oil and gas sectors, which he called “the major arteries which convey oxygen and life to our national economy which incidentally operates in closed loop.”
He expressed concerns that any COVID-19 infestation on any of these vessels arriving offshore would spell a national disaster for Nigeria, its people, economic life wire and well-being to
the nation.
He added that “The current down turn on oil price is bad enough, any addition to this challenge by the Coronavirus pandemic will be disaster and tsunamic.”
The worries, according to Ogbuagu are that without clear guidelines, the maritime sector could continue with business as usual and would not be able to withstand a semblance of what happened on some vessel, the Grand Princess, off the Coast of California.
He also urged the Ministry of Transport to direct NIMASA as the Flag Administration to use the proposal of Mariners offshore as working document to work out a clear guideline in corporation with critical stakeholders on how the maritime sector should hence forth operate and respond to COVID-19.
Ogbuagu is confident that such new guidelines would support demand for doing it right, just as Nigeria did with the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code challenges in 2004 and survived the strict IMO guidelines within the shortest possible time.
He urged NIMASA to “work in its capacity as “Incident Commander” in the maritime sector, just as the NCAA has already done, activating an action plan as Air Regulator.”
Nnajiuno Ogbuagu, is a Marine Engineer, fmr and Pioneer Executive Director Operations of NIMASA, Director General, Nigerian Shipowners Association – NISA and Consultant to Senate Committee on Marine Transport.
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