By Godfrey Bivbere
AS the Coronavirus,COVID-19, pandemic continues to spread across the country, customs agents have called for the development of an action plan by stakeholders in the maritime sector of the nation’s economy.
Speaking with Vanguard Maritime Report on the recent discovery of six seafarers on board an oil vessel who tested positive to the dreaded virus, National President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA, Lucky Amewiro, said that the various agencies seem to be working at cross purposes.
Amewiro pointed at the recent controversy between the National Council of Disease Control, NCDC, and the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, over the case of six crew members of an oil vessel that tested positive to the COVID-19.
He noted that the NPA, Port Health, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Nigeria Customs Service, the terminal operators, shipping companies, etc. should have a unified known plan of action on COVID-19 before a ship arrives the nation’s waters till when it berths and when it leaves.
He blamed the absence of the above plan of action for the situation where the seafarers got onshore without the knowledge of the relevant agencies.
According to him, “What is the function of NPA if they are not aware of the incident? They might not be aware because their recent function might not cover that. Coronavirus is not an African thing; it is an issue that comes from the western world.
“If you trail that vessel where it came from, the seaport and other places that it has been to; that is what Nigeria is supposed to do. Though they have given a new directive of 14 days wait before berthing but Nigeria should go further than that. It is not only the NPA, but you also have the Port Health, etc. that are supposed to sit down with the stakeholders and come up with an action plan because this thing is new.
“There is no vaccine or cure as at now, the maritime sector is being exposed to the virus if the proper thing is not done and we have a means of curtailing by reducing the contact between the crew of visiting ships and Nigerians working at the ports.”
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