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COVID-19: NIMASA, NSC collaborate to sustain shipping business in Nigeria

While Federal and State Governments work to contain the spread of Coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and the port economic regulator, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), have agreed to join forces towards ensuring the smooth port operations during the 14-days lockdown in Lagos.

According to a statement signed by Philip Kyanet, head, Corporate Communications of NIMASA and made available to newsmen on Thursday, Bashir Jamoh, director general of the NIMASA, said the agency has to issue new guidelines for vessel calling at the Nigerian Ports to ensure shipping activities continue in a way that would not allow the spread of Coronavirus.

Jamoh stated this when the executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello led some stakeholders including shipping companies to the NIMASA head office, in Lagos.

He said while the Federal 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, like the Shippers’ Council to ensure continuous shipping.

“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”, Jamoh said.

Speaking further on the guidelines, Jamoh noted that it was issued based on consultations with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and in line with best global practices, adding that the guidelines are still open to review for 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,” he said.

Hassan Bello, executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, 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 maritime sector will endeavor 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,” he 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 NIMASA in issuing the notice.

AMAKA ANAGOR-EWUZIE
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