NIMASA tasks ship owners on abandoned wrecks

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has expressed concern about several wrecks abandoned by ship owners in spite of several Marine Notices.

The Director General of NIMASA, Dr Ziakede Akpobolokemi stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

He condemned the actions of some ship owners, who instituted legal cases against the agency (NIMASA); demanding for claims whenever such abandoned wrecks were to be removed.

Apobolokemi said government had awarded contract for the removal of the wrecks, adding that work had started in some areas.

He explained that apart from the fact that wrecks were detrimental to navigation, some people used the wrecks as ``cover up’’ to carry out nefarious acts.

``Government has awarded contracts for wrecks to be removed in all our maritime domain.

``They have started. By the grace of God, the wrecks are going to be removed. The first phase of the job has been awarded in the South South area; in Lagos area.

``It is not good for us to have wrecks. Let me tell you, you will give Marine Notice 20 times, ‘come and remove your wrecks’, you will not see Nigerians.

``The day you want to go and remove the wreck; a wreck that has been abandoned for five years, suddenly you will see crew.

``The next day, they have gone to court to get injunction.

``Okay, we have advertised; we have told you, we have the mandate under the law to go and remove these wrecks.

``If I tell you the number of litigation we have here; that is to tell you that we must change our ways.

``Somebody whose wreck is negative in terms of money; would go to court and say is 10 billion.

``Meanwhile, what they bought that vessel, it may not be up to one million dollars but he is asking; and after using it for 20 years, and has abandoned it; he is coming to ask you for N10 billion. That is the situation,’’ Akpobolokemi said.

The director-general suggested adequate education of ship owners on wrecks, adding that wrecks could create ``navigation problems, stowaway, where criminals hide’’.

Akpobolokemi said there was also resistance because “some people did not want us (NIMASA) to remove the wrecks because of some criminals who do their bidding and hid there.”