By DAPO OLAWUNI
Stakeholders at the 2023 Lagos International Maritime Week (LIMWeek 2023) organised by the ZOE Maritime Resources Ltd. in Lagos on Tuesday has called for structural solutions in ensuring that pollution from ships is tackled, so as to protect the African maritime space.
The week has the theme, ”MARPOL at 50–Pollution from Ships, Africa’s Commitment to Clean Oceans Seas, Inland Waters and the Marine Environment”.
DAILY TREND reports that MARPOL is an international convention for the prevention of pollution from ships.
Ambassador Michel Deelen, the Consul General of Netherlands in Nigeria noted that the Blue Economy sector has many potentials, but that pollution from ships could hinder the nation from harnessing these potentials.
He canvassed that structures have to be put in place, while existing laws and sanctions needs to be metted out on foreign ships polluting Nigerian maritime space, as well indiscriminate dumping of wastes in the ocean by manufacturing companies.
“There is the subject of Maritime environmental pollution, I know we all see this when we go to the beautiful beaches of Lagos. Recently, we had the World Beach Clean-up Day, but as you clean up the beach one day, the next day everything washes ashore again.
“So, we need to find structural solutions for this, structural solutions for manufacturing companies, structural solutions for plastic wastes, and for the way with which big international cargo vessels are proposed, because the fuel they use in these vessels are not the best quality, so environmentally, a lot of progress still needs to be made in this regard” he said
Also speaking at the event, HRM Oba Abdulwasiu Omogbolahan Lawal, the Oniru of Iru Land insisted that there must be a more echo friendly and responsible ethics in management of environmental aspects of the maritime business.
Speaking, the revered Oba who was represented by one of his Chiefs, Olumide Oniru, said the realm of his kingdom is completely surrounded by the ocean and the Lagos lagoon and that the marine and port business activities impacts on the lives of his people. He however assured that the indigenes would continue to partner the federal government in ensuring that the waters remain unpolluted.
While delivering the public lecture at the event, Ambassador Florentina Ukonga, past Executive Secretary, Gulf of Guinea (GoG) Commission noted that Nigeria was among the 26 African countries that had ratified MARPOL but, unfortunately, Nigeria could not be classified as a shipping nation even with the ratification.
According to her, many countries in Africa, though party to MARPOL, are not shipping countries.
“Maritime transportation in Nigeria and in the West and Central Africa is grossly under developed.
“Majority of the ships providing maritime transportation services in West and Central Africa region are from Europe, Asia and the Far East.
“It is a cause of great concern to maritime industry watchers that maritime transportation with so much potential for economic emancipation and the development of the coastal countries is virtually in the hands of non-Africans and solidly in their control,” she said.
She noted that goods could not move from one country to the other along the coast of West and Central Africa without first passing through Europe to be trans shipped to Africa.
“Whereas, if the maritime transportation is well developed, even if it is within the region, there should be ships plying these routes stopping in almost all the ports of the region with shorter period of transportation, not exceeding two to five sailing days en route,” she said.
She said that being party to MARPOL was a good step in the right direction, at least, African countries would not be turned into the dumping ground for maritime waste, garbage, toxic and hazardous waste.
Ukonga said if Nigeria’s maritime transportation sector really picks up, stakeholder would know what standards to aspire, keep and respect for them to be competitive.
“I will like to encourage our entrepreneurs to really invest in maritime transportation, either for goods transportation or for people transportation, especially in inter-state maritime transportation.
“Our African countries are seriously missing in this sector.
“African countries should be involved in the regional maritime transportation sector even if we do not yet want to go to Europe or USA or Asia or the far East,” she said.
Earlier, Chairman, Zoe Maritime Resources Ltd., Mrs Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore, noted that the sustainable development of the ocean economy was key to African growth.
According to Edodo-Emore, the cleanliness of the body of waters surrounding Africa and the state of its inland waters, creeks and rivers are critical for her survival.
“Its now 50 years since the enactment of MARPOL that deals with prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships and this event seeks to examine its effect on maritime transportation, security and others.
“We also welcome the creation of a separate ministry to take charge of maritime affairs and we look forward to active engagement with the new ministry as she seeks to bring solutions to challenges,” she said.
The event witnessed the presentation of a lifetime achievement awards to frontline shipping magnate, Capt Emmanuel Iheanacho, as well as Amb Florentina Adenike Ukonga.
LIMweek continues until Thursday 21st of September at Oriental Hotel in Lagos.