24 September 2009

Nigeria: Activist Welcomes FG's Efforts to Remove Wrecks On Lagos Creeks

Reactions have continued to trail the recent approval of a N3.4 billion contract for the removal of 24 wrecks and derelicts from Commodore Pool to Porto- Novo Creeks of the Lagos navigable Channels.

An environmental activist and director, Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), Engineer Desmond Majekodunmi who spoke in an interview with Daily Champion described the deal as long over due, saying apart from obstructing vessel navigation along the creeks, the wrecks dotting Lagos territorial waters are serious threats to coastal communities.

While hailing the administrative courage of the present director general of NIMASA, Mr Temi Omatseye for canvassing the wrecks and derelicts clean up, Majekodunmi cautioned against any move to abandon the contract midway.

He recalled that NCF recently completed phase one of the removal of a ship wreckage along Agaja and Olomo-Meta creek communities. He said the derelict has caused a speedy erosion of surface areas of the liner communities.

According to him, NCF in association with some oil majors decided to save the communities in Ojo council area of the state from extinction in line with corporate social responsibilities. He explained that both communities would have been covered by ocean waters aided by waves directed to them by the wreckage an unidentified oil vessel off the Atlantic coast abandoned by unknown persons over 10 years ago.

Daily Champion recalls that during the last Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja, government approved N3.4 billion for the immediate removal of wrecks and derelict ships dotting Lagos territorial creeks. This, according to the government is to enable free flow of navigational activities on the high sea and ensure smooth waterways transportation.

The government noted that the decision to remove the highly critical wrecks and derelicts is to avoid the danger posed by the water filth which has become a serious treat to the safety of navigation for incoming and outgoing ships and barges.

The wrecks, upon recovery, are to be disposed of to interested local steel mills through a competitive bidding process.

Transport Minister, Ibrahim Bio in an interview, said the removal of the wrecks is long overdue as some have stayed on inside the seabed for the past 35 years.

Littering along the Lagos navigable creeks of the ocean are ship wrecks abandoned over the years by shipping firms.

Oceanographic experts say the indiscriminate presence of the derelicts pose pollution and navigational dangers to the nations waterways.

Before now, both Lagos State authorities and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) have been trading blames over whose duties it is to clear the abandoned ships.

Reacting in an interview, director general of NIMASA, Mr. Temi Omatseye welcomed the deal saying over 100 wrecks have been identified just as 35 of them are more dangerous to navigation at the creeks.

In Port Harcourt and Warri axis, about 25 wrecks have also been identified for removal during the flag off of the job expected to begin in October.

In a chat with Daily Champion, managing director if NPA, Mr. Abdulrasalam Mohammed described the federal government gesture as good for the development and consolidation of the maritime industry especially in the area of inland navigation.

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