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Coronavirus: NIMASA draws new guidelines for vessels calling Nigerian ports

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has issued new guideline to all types of ships operating in the nation’s seaport in order to contain the spread of Coronavirus otherwise known as COVID-19, through shipping activities.

According to a marine notice published by the agency recently, NIMASA directed all maritime stakeholders to develop risk assessments and safety intervention guidelines for their personnel and operations on the areas of vulnerabilities of their maritime operations that can be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The notice, which was signed by the management, listed the areas to include offshore operations such as crew/personnel changes, visits from onshore and other locations for provision of supplies, maintenance and repairs and among others.

While stating that the agency would be elaborating on the guideline in coming days, the notice further directed that schedule for ongoing offshore operations requiring new crew or crew changes from affected countries must ensure that pre-departure tests for COVID-19 are conducted on such persons, and self-isolation procedures for the prescribed period are instituted for new crew/personnel before exposure to other personnel.

“Only international marine vessel which had planned and informed the agency of their call into a Nigerian Port not later than 1st February, 2020 may be allowed to call on such port,” the marine notice further stated.

It added that any international marine vessel or any member of its crew or passenger therein having a travel history of visiting any of the COVID-19 affected countries since 1st Feb, 2020; shall not be permitted to enter any Nigerian port from 30th March, 2020 till 12th of April, 2020 while further dates may be reviewed from time to time.

“Furthermore, only international marine vessel having thermal screening facilities for passenger and crew may be allowed in the ports and shipping agent/master of vessels must submit all documents related to crew and passengers regarding their travel to or from the COVID-19 affected countries,” the notice reads.

NIMASA also directed that it was important for all passengers and crew members to fill the Self Reporting Form as prescribed by Nigerian Port Health Authorities, adding that Port Health officers shall carry out thermal screening of all the passengers and crew members on board ship, and none would be allowed ashore until clearance is given.

The Bashir Jamoh-led management of NIMASA also said in the notice that the purpose was to help shipping companies and all maritime stakeholders follow advice provided by United Nations agencies including the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), as well as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

It explained that the outbreak of Coronavirus has necessitated stringent measures that can help curb the spread without grounding the Nigerian economy completely.

AMAKA ANAGOR-EWUZIE

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