By Kenneth Jukpor
As part of efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Nigeria from the seaports, YoungShip Nigeria has admonished the federal government to detain inbound ships for fourteen days in order to quarantine the crew and goods.
YoungShip Nigeria, a network of young professionals in the nation’s maritime industry made this call during its 4th Annual General Meeting in Lagos, at the weekend.
According to the National Chairman, YoungShip Nigeria, Mr. Usman Shuaibu such measure should see the government wave the charges and allow free gestation period for the ships at Nigerian ports.
The group also stressed that seafarers could be one of the most affected persons in the maritime sector, noting that the government must do its best to protect young seafarers who could be victimized from job opportunities as a result of the virus.
“Ships calling at Nigerian ports must be bound to report any health concerns and this means there is need to create hotlines for this purpose. Looking at the gestation period of the virus which is 14-28days, it calls for us to put an executive directive so that all ships that call at Nigerian ports stay for a minimum of 14days when they would be subjected to quarantine before clearance.”
“During this period, the ship can be infected and this enables you inspected the crew members as well as the goods. Health personnel should be the first set of officials to mount ships as part of efforts to forestall the spread of this virus. The government should provide a review in terms of tarrif for ship-owners who have to be bound to this new 14-days quarantine period,” he said.
He noted that the challenge of extra charges should be waved by the government in the interim as the government’s focus should be on the environment and well-being of Nigerian citizens rather than revenue.
“The wider implication the spread of coronavirus would have in Nigeria is more consequential than the cost. It is just a temporary measure. When the virus has been curtailed across the globe to an appreciable level, things can return to the normal practice at the ports,” he said.
He lamented that the maritime sector in Nigeria still lags behind in ports and shipping operations, especially in areas of inland logistics required to get goods to the hinterlands from the seaports. He noted that this was an impediment to the growth and development of the nation’s maritime sector.
“YoungShip in Nigeria is in realization of the role of young maritime professionals in the development of the Nigerian Maritime Industry. We noted that there was no platform to harness the potentials of the young professionals in the sector and this portends a dangerous trend for the industry”
“We seek to provide a voice for all young people in the maritime industry that clearly should be heard. YoungShip Nigeria has a clear role to play in engaging, inspiring and working with the maritime industry to promote the young bright minds for the future. The younger generation will always have alternative views on how to solve some of the big challenges we face today in the industry,” he added.
He commended the leadership of Nigerian Maritime Administation and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA), Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS), National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), the Ministry of Transportation, among others, for supporting the group over the years.