Hydrographic services need utmost priority in growing shipping sector-Omotoso

Mr. Olumide Omotoso


A key service of hydrography, which involves surveying, charting and buoying of the waters to safe navigation, must be given prime attention in shipping, the body of hydrographers in Nigeria has said.
Mr. Olumide Omotoso, the Chairman, Nigeria Hydrographic Society, Lagos/South West Zone and the Hydrographer General of the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA), called attention to that fact while making contributions to discussions at a recent focus group meeting held by the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping in Lagos.

Omotoso, however, noted that outcomes from several discussions on how to grow the shipping sub-sector have not given the required attention to hydrohgraphic services, which is all about safety for navigation.

He said: “One difficult thing we have found difficult to fix is ensuring to carry everybody along. We have several committees, but we are not building on anything, we just keep reinventing the wheel all the time.”

He decried the fact that there is not a single institution in Africa training hydrographers on how to make the sea safe. An obvious absence of a very important aspect for growing the sector.

Speaking further on the importance of creating a safe environment for navigation, Omotoso said that only a few weeks ago when they buoyed the channel at Five Cowries creeks for inland waters, vessels immediately started going into the water.

“So, you can see the importance of buoys on water. Without the hydrographic survey and charting of the waters, you cannot buoy. It is an essential part of shipping.

“It is important to set up study groups that can offer expertise on what they are professional in. We can come and say we are able to offer service in the aspect of safety in the areas that concerns all the waters,” Omotoso said.

He mentioned that in spite of a big jetty in Lekki, people still found it difficult to bring their boats from Ikorodo due to lack of charts, just as boat operators get very mindful of  the area from Victoria Island to Victoria Garden City.

“People are afraid because nobody is funding the charting of the waters. We are proposing the national hydrographic commission. We don’t even have inventory of all the rivers in Nigeria," he added.