In a bid towards curtailing the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has barred international vessels without thermal screening facilities from operating in the nation’s territorial waters and sector.
The Director General, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh announced this at the weekend through a press statement issued by the Head, Corporate Communications, NIMASA, Mr. Isichei Osamgbi saying the ban is necessary following the current outbreak of COVID-19 and the need to curtail the spread through shipping activities.
“The Agency has developed guidelines 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,” he said.
Jamoh also explained that the purpose is to help shipping firms 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) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) respectively.
“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 said.
Furthermore, he noted that the foremost maritime regulator will soon come up with the publication that would hint clearly on the guidance that 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. He added that self-isolation procedures for the prescribed period will also be instituted for such new crew/personnel before exposure to other personnel.
The DG also buttressed 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.
He added 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 allowed entry into any Nigerian ports with effect from March 30, 2020 till April 12, 2020 of which the dates may be reviewed from time-to-time.
Jamoh, however, pointed out that only international marine vessels 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 nations.
The NIMASA chief executive, maintained that it was necessary 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.
Editing by ‘Biodun Soyele
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