Navy identifies 35 shipwrecks hindering Lagos channel navigation

The Nigerian Navy had said that the Lagos channel providing access for vessels into the Tin Can Island ports was dotted with about 35 identified shipwrecks which were hindering ship navigation.

The Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, stated this  while briefing newsmen at the Naval Base in Apapa, Lagos.

Other areas where shipwrecks were identified by the Navy apart from Tin Can Island  are, Kirikiri, Navy Town and bad portions of the Badagry Creek.

He said, “The hazard associated with these wrecks is that most often, especially during high water, they are submerged and hardly visible to mariners and therefore, pose great threats during this period of time.

“Apart from endangering shipping, most of the wrecks also constitute environmental pollution and hazards.

“I do not think it portrays  us as a country with laws and regulations in good light, especially to the global shipping community.”

According to him, there are several navigational aids like the oils, markings, and lighthouses that are not functional or missing or have shifted from their intended original positions.

He said, “The absence of these navigational aids also constitutes risks to shipping, especially at night or during restricted visibility.

“You will recall that just a few months ago, one of our vessels, Nigerian Navy Ship Calabar, while moving harbours for patrol, was involved in mishap and struck a submerged wreck, just in the middle of the channel.

“You will all agree with me that this can be avoided if those wrecks were promptly removed when they were identified.”

He said in particular, when it involved distress calls from vessels at sea, it could be difficult for agencies to respond to such emergencies because of the threats posed by the wrecks on the nation’s waterways.

“During the day, we might be able to figure out where they are, but at night and in poor or restricted visibility, it is very difficult to see the exact location of these wrecks,” he said.

The FOC said that the hydrography office of the Nigerian Navy, in line with its statutory responsibilities as identified, had resurveyed the wrecks and the surveys had been shared to relevant agencies of government.

He said, “The surveys have been shared to the agencies and departments responsible for the removal of the wrecks on our waterways.

“It will therefore, be necessary for such authorities to take urgent action and remove these wrecks on our waterways so that shipping, especially the safety of ships and seafarers will further be guaranteed.

“Additionally, the replacement and servicing of bad navigational aids will equally assist the safety of navigation.

“It will enhance the ability of responding agencies to quickly move and respond to emergencies in case of distress at sea.”

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency  had last year issued  an ultimatum to owners of abandoned ships to remove them or have them seized.

The agency said failure to remove the vessels would lead to the agency removing them and making the owners pay for the removal.

The matter our correspondent learnt was still in court and the agency was waiting for final court decision to carry out its threat.
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