By Eromosele Abiodun
To mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through shipping activities, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Bashir Jamoh, has banned all vessels without thermal screening facilities from operating in Nigerian waters.
Jamoh stated that the purpose is to help shipping companies and all maritime stakeholders to follow advice provided by United Nations agencies including the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), as well as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
According to him, the outbreak of COVID-19 has necessitated stringent measures that can help curb its 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,” Jamoh stated.
He also disclosed that the agency 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.
The NIMASA boss 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.