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NIMASA issues fresh guidelines, bans vessels without screening facilities

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Massive congestion looms at Lagos ports over lockdown

Determined to stop the spread of the Coronavirus epidemic through shipping activities, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has issued fresh guidelines to support all types of ships that operate in the nation’s maritime domain.

Consequently, Director-General of the agency, Bashir Jamoh, yesterday banned all vessels without thermal screening facilities from operating on Nigerian waters.

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In a statement, he pointed out that the new rules would help shipping companies and maritime stakeholders to follow the 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 had necessitated stringent measures to curb its spread while not totally grounding the national economy.

“These are trying times and we must pull through together. That is why we have directed all maritime stakeholders to develop risk assessments and safety intervention guidelines for their personnel and operations in the areas of vulnerabilities of their maritime operations that could 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 the provision of supplies, maintenance and repairs.”

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The DG observed that only international marine vessel which had planned and informed of their call into a Nigerian port not later than February 1, 2020, maybe allowed to call on such facility.

He added that any cargo or crew having a travel history of visiting any of the COVID-19 affected countries since February 1 shall not be permitted to enter any Nigerian from March 30 till April 12, 2020.

Also yesterday, the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) warned of a looming massive congestion at Lagos ports owing to the inability of consignees and their agents to take delivery their cargoes on account of the lockdown pronouncement of President Buhari.

Admitting that while it is good for the ports to support government’s efforts at curtailing the spread of the disease, STOAN, however, added that there was a need to allow full movement of cargoes nationwide.

The association’s spokesman, Bolaji Akinola, said: “All terminals in Lagos are between 90 per cent and 95 per cent full. Most of the cargoes are non-essential. If cargoes do not flow within days, there will be no space in the terminals to discharge others.”

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