The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has warned all owners of abandoned ships/vessels to urgently remove them from the Nigerian territorial waters or face strict sanctions.
Shipwrecks are the remains of damaged vessels on the waterways, and often pose a threat to the smooth sailing of ships on the nation’s territorial waters.
The Director General, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who issued warning, last week said such wrecks should be removed forthwith, or risk sanctions ranging from forfeiture or removal by the Agency at the owners expense.
Peterside said it is instructive to ensure that the waters remained safe for navigation in order to advance maritime interests.
He therefore warned that all abandoned ships would be declared as wrecks, and the Agency would ensure that nothing impedes safe navigation in the waters by removing them.
He said: “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 helmsman also said 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.
It should be noted that 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,” he stated.