From left:  Managing Director, Ports & Terminal Multiservices Limited, Ascanio Russo, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh and the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council NSC, Barrister Hassan Bello during a meeting with stakeholders including shipping company at NIMASA’s headquarters, Lagos, Thursday.

Francis Ezem

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, has reiterated its commitment towards the growth and development of the country’s shipping industry through strategic partnerships with relevant stakeholders including the Nigerian Shippers Council as the Federal Government adopts series of measures to contain the spread of deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

Director General of the agency, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, who gave the assurance, spoke when the Executive Secretary/CEO of the council, Barrister Hassan Bello led other stakeholders including shipping companies to the NIMASA’s head office, in Lagos. He also said that while the government is concerned about the lives of the citizens in the country, the economy must be sustained, hence the need for collaboration with relevant agencies including the NSC. 

According to him, the recent guidelines for vessels calling at the nation’s seaports issued by the agency were also in line with the efforts of the government towards ensuring that shipping activities continued in a manner that would not allow further spread of the virus.

While also acknowledging the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down activities in the industry, he appealed for more understanding as the global economy is going through a trying time, of which Nigeria is not exempted.

“We are in trying times and all hands must be on deck to sustain the Nigerian economy. Let me assure all stakeholders and the shipping community that on our part as a regulatory Agency we will continue to embrace collaboration. This is a phase and it will soon be over, because today’s pains are necessary for tomorrow’s gains.

“The recent guidelines issued by NIMASA were based on consultations with the International Maritime Organisation IMO and in line with best global practices, which are still open to review as time goes on, all in the best interest of everybody involved.

“The world was not prepared for the pandemic and that is why we are trying to ease the pressure on our industry, while taking necessary precautions to safeguard lives. We will continue to review these guidelines where necessary to ensure that shipping does not suffer, especially when it comes to movement of medical facilities through the sea”, the DG said.

 Bello had while speaking earlier corroborated the stance of the NIMASA DG and appealed for more cooperation and collaboration from the shipping companies and stakeholders in the sector. He gave the assurance that Federal Government agencies in the industry will endeavour to work together and synergise to ensure ease of information sharing through a single data window, as it will help the sector to grow.

 “At this period, we must sustain our economy through shipping, though it is a delicate balance, considering the havoc the pandemic has caused the globe that is why we are working hand in hand to ensure ports activities continue, while not being detrimental to human lives”, the NSC-boss also said.

Earlier, representatives of some shipping companies, who attended the meeting appealed to the agency to consider voyages less than 14 days in the marine notice review in order to avoid undue delay and port congestion. They also commended the proactive efforts of the agency in issuing the notice.

In attendance at the meeting were Managing Directors of PIL Shipping, Jack Langrishe, Ports & Terminal Multiservice Limited, Ascanio Russo and General Manager, ARKAS Line, Iain Lindsay, as well as the Executive Directors of NIMASA.