NIMASA opens N30bn wreck removal, recycling market in Nigeria

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has opened up what could be a N30 billion wreck removal and recycling market in Nigeria by commencing the first phase of the nationwide wreck removal exercise.

Bashir Jamoh, the director-general of NIMASA, said during the official flag off of nationwide wreck removal exercise in Lagos on Friday that the exercise was divided into four phases including the Badagry-Tin-Can Island axis, Western Zone, Eastern Zone with headquarters in Port Harcourt, and Central Zone headquartered in Warri.

He said the agency would issue a marine notice to the owners of abandoned vessels on Nigerian waters to pick them up.

“If ship owners did not remove the vessels after the expiration of the time frame, NIMASA will remove and auction those that are alive, and recycle those that are not alive,” he said.

Jamoh however urged ship owners to stop acquiring ships that have almost outlived their lifespan, adding that such ships would end up as abandoned and they would sink in the waterways, and pose navigational challenges.

According to him, some littoral state governments like Bayelsa State reached an agreement with the agency to provide counterpart funding, while the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has provided its foundry even as NIMASA has reached an agreement with a private company from South Africa to process the waste into useful items.

Nasir Raji, managing director of Raji Industries Ltd, a firm that specialises in turning waste into wealth by making products such as steel doors, disclosed that there are about 200,000 tons of iron and steel presently buried underwater in Nigerian.

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Estimating such wrecks to worth over N30 billion, he solicited for the opportunity to acquire some of the wrecks from NIMASA for recycling.

Raji described the project as ‘ambitious’, saying that the removed wrecks would be used for building of infrastructure in Nigeria.

Contracted to Humber Marine Werks Company Limited, Nigeria’s wreck removal and recycling business is estimated to worth over N30 billion, and is to be carried out in four phases within a 2-year contract.

Removal of wreck will not only ensure safe navigation of vessels on Nigerian waters but would also enable creation of thousands of jobs for Nigerian youths, if properly harness.

BusinessDay understands that NIMASA has carried out survey of the wrecks in Nigerian waters, and will go back in December 2021 to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to obtain the approval to complete other phases of the exercise.

On his part, Mohammed Bello-Koko, acting managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), who said that the presence of wrecks on the waterways has been a hindrance to NPA operations, said the exercise is a welcome development.

He advised NIMASA to start with the removal of critical wrecks especially those that are within 1km away due to sedimentation, which causes impediments to the water channels.

“It is important that we recognise that there are a lot of abandoned vessels on Nigerian waters. And those vessels that are abandoned today may end up becoming wrecks in the near future. Therefore, there should be a data, which is already available but needs to be updated. While marine notice should be issued to owners of those abandoned vessels to either take them away or a legal provision made to enable NIMASA to auction them,” he explained.

He noted that owners of such abandoned vessels always go to court but legal provision would address that, adding that the NPA will work with NIMASA to ensure that critical wrecks are identified and removed.

Bello-Koko pointed out that it is an opportunity for a value-chain that would create a lot of recycling plants as well as job creation for Nigerian youths.

He added that Humber Marine, which had partnered with the NPA in removing wrecks in the past, has the needed capacity in actualising the goals of the project.

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