By Innocent Orok
Nigeria Maritime regulatory body, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASAl) has issued safety guidance to all ships berthing in Nigeria by banning vessels without thermal screening facilities from operating in Nigerian waters.
According to a release issued by Isichei Osamgbi, Head, Corporate Communications of NIMASA today, March 29, 2020, the Director General of the agency, Dr. Bashir Jamoh announced that following the current outbreak of COVID-19 and the need to mitigate the spread especially through shipping activities. The Agency has developed Guidance to support all types of ships that operate in the Nigerian maritime domain and banned all vessels without thermal screening facilities from operating in Nigerian waters .
Dr. Jamoh stated that the purpose is to help shipping companies and all maritime stakeholders to follow advice provided by the 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).
According to him “the outbreak has necessitated stringent measures that can help curb the spread while not totally grounding the Nigerian economy.
” These are trying times and we must pull through together that is why we have directed that all maritime stakeholders 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 including but not limited to offshore operations such as crew/personnel changes, visits from onshore and other locations for provision of supplies, maintenance and repairs etc” Jamoh stated.”
He further disclosed that the NIMASA would be coming up with the publication that would elaborate on the guidance which also includes schedule for ongoing offshore operations requiring new crew or crew changes from affected countries to ensure that pre-departure tests for COVID 19 are conducted on such persons, and self-isolation procedures for the prescribed period are instituted for such new crew/personnel before exposure to other personnel.
Dr. Jamoh also pointed out that only international marine vessel which had planned and informed of their call into a Nigerian Port not later than 1st February, 2020 may be allowed to call on such port adding 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. And any further dates as may be reviewed from time to time.
“Additionally, only international marine vessel having thermal screening facilities for passenger and crew may be allowed on the ports and that 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 NIMASA DG, also pointed out 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 (PHO) shall carry out thermal screening of all the passengers and crew members on board ship and until clearance is given by the PHO no passengers and or crew members would be allowed ashore.
It would be recalled that in the fight against the deadly COVID-19 NIMASA recently has donated 20 ventilators as well as six fast intervention vessels to facilitate transport logistics support in the maritime sector.
The Agency has also donated four fully equipped brand new Ambulances, four Hilux and four 36 sitter coaster buses to facilitate land based logistics in the Federal capital Territory, Lagos, Delta, Rivers, Cross Rivers and Kaduna States along with cash donations to some of the states who have reported cases of the pandemic.