As part of measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus via shipping activities, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has unveiled new guidelines for all ships operating on Nigerian waters, banning all vessels without thermal screening facilities from operating in the country.
This development, according to the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh is to ensure shipping companies and other maritime operators follow procedures stipulated by 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).
The Agency has also donated 4 fully equipped brand new ambulances, 4 Hilux Vans 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.
Referring to the advent of pandemic as trying times, the NIMASA boss said the outbreak has necessitated stringent measures to curb the spread while not totally grounding the Nigerian economy.
“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 said.
Jamoh 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.
He stressed that only international marine vessels 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 ports, 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.
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 Director General 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.
Recall that the agency has also supported in the fight against the deadly COVID-19 by donating 20 ventilators as well as 6 fast intervention vessels to facilitate transport logistics support in the maritime sector.