New rules underway for shipwreck removal from Nigerian waters
Plans are at advanced stage by the Federal Government to review the rules guiding the removal of shipwrecks from Nigerian waterways.
A shipwreck is the remains of a ship that has wrecked, which are found either beached on land or sunken to the bottom of a body of water. Shipwrecking may be deliberate or accidental and poses a danger to smooth sailing of vessels through the water channel.
If properly aligned to facilitate urgent removal of shipwrecks, Nigerian navigable waterways will become safer for vessels. The rule is however expected to ease the modalities of clearing a shipwreck for ship owners.
Already, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has commenced arrangements to review the existing procedures and galvanise it for a more efficient ways of combating shipwreck on the nation’s coastline.
The Director-General, NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, disclosed in Abuja recently that the review of the wreck removal process became inevitable in order to enhance the efficiency of the process.
According to him “NIMASA is working under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Transportation to review wreck removal process in order to make Nigerian navigable waters safer for navigation by all. Once we get the consent of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, we will put out Marine Notice to that effect.”
Dakuku noted that the Nairobi Convention provides for the process via which a ship can be declared a wreck adding that the agency had been following the law diligently.
While acknowledging that the challenge of wreck on Nigerian waterways is a challenge inherited by the current administration at NIMASA, Peterside assured Nigerians that the implementation of the reviewed process will serve as a catalyst to boost wreck removal from Nigerian waterways.
The Nairobi Convention on wreck removal of 2007, which came into force on April 14, 2015, states that if a ship is declared wreck, the country’s maritime administration should publish information to that effect.
The owner of the wreck is expected to remove it within a certain period and if they don’t, it is declared a wreck and the maritime administration can now remove it and the owners can pay surcharge and pick up the wreck.
Alternatively, the maritime administration can sell the wreck, dispose of the wreck, and cover the money spent in getting the wreck out.
And if after a certain period nobody claims ownership of the wreck, then it is forfeited to the maritime administration of the country.
According to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the number of abandoned wrecks is estimated at almost 1,300 worldwide and the number is growing, causing more acute problems to coastal states and shipping in general.
Therefore, the need to have safe, secured and clean waterways cannot be over-emphasized. In fact, this is the hallmark of IMO, but the phenomenon of wreck amongst others has posed a veritable threat to the actualisation of the IMO’s mantra.