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NIMASA And The Need For More Protection For Non Sea-Faring Maritime Workers5 minutes read

Timothy Iwuagwu

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NIMASA AND THE NEED FOR MORE PROTECTION FOR NON SEA-FARING MARITIME WORKERS

Drawing from contemporary issues observed among operators in Nigeria’s maritime environment, particularly considering the decision by Nigeria to commence the enforcement of the various annexes of MARPOL mandatory requirement for tankers of 5,000 dead weight (dwt) and more to be fitted with double hulls, or an alternative design approved by the International Maritime Organisation.

It is therefore considered most needful at this time to draw the attention of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), to the subtle negative impacts to the marine environment and ecosystem due to ship-breaking and related operations.

And also make mention of the graveness of the exposures, to unsafe conditions as well as chronic and acute health and safety hazards by Nigerians working in private and public sectors of the economy within our maritime domain.

Prominent among these are seen in the activities of boat building and ship building and repairs in slipways, ship dockyards. Also among those engaged in ship breaking, demolition and scraping of sundry marine vessels and conveyances and infrastructures.

Here workers get infected with pneumoconiosis, asbestosis, silicosis and sundry acute occupationally induced respiratory disorders.

The main cause being inhalation of asbestos fibres from lagging materials, from ship breaking operations and from high concentrations of sand and paints particulates from blasting operations; often carried out without the use of appropriate personal protective equipments due to ignorance and negligence by employees and employers.

The above is a direct consequence of the absence of trained and certified safety personnel as well as the effective visible presence of relevant government regulators.

What Is Ship-Breaking or Ship Demolition?
Ship-breaking or ship demolition simply refers to a method of ship disposal involving the breaking up of ships for either a source of parts, which can be sold for re-use, or for the extraction of raw materials, chiefly scrap. It is also known as ship dismantling, ship cracking, or ship recycling.

How Long Does It Take To Scrap A Ship?
In a slow and clean sweep, workers use torches, sledgehammers and sheer elbow grease to scrap the ship. It takes anywhere from two weeks to a year to dismantle a ship.

Is Ship Breaking Hazardous?
In addition to taking a huge toll on the health of workers, ship breaking is a highly polluting industry. Large amounts of carcinogens and toxic substances (PCBs, PVCs, PAHs, TBT, mercury, lead, isocyanates, sulfuric acid) not only intoxicate workers but are also dumped into the soil and coastal waters.

Mooring Rope Accident

Occupational Safety And Health Hazards In Ship-Breaking
Ship breaking has grown into a major occupational and environmental health problem across the world. It is amongst the most dangerous and most overlooked of occupations, with unacceptably high levels of fatalities, injuries and work-related diseases. Shipbreaking is a difficult process due to the structural complexity of the ships, and it generates many environmental, safety and health hazards. Carried out mainly in the informal sector, it is rarely subjected to safety controls or inspection. Workers usually lack personal protective equipment and have little training, if any. Inadequate safety controls, badly monitored work operations and high risk of explosions create very dangerous work situations. Workers have very limited access to health services and inadequate housing, welfare and sanitary facilities further exacerbate the plight of the workers.

The world’s fleet of ships is about 90,000 vessels, and the average life of a ship is 20-25 years. The average number of large ships being scrapped each year is about 500-700, but taking into account vessels of all sizes, this number may be as high as 3,000. Ninety percent of the ship-breaking in the world is carried out in Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan and Turkey.

In addition to taking a huge toll on the health of workers, ship breaking is a highly polluting industry. Large amounts of carcinogens and toxic substances (PCBs, PVCs, PAHs, TBT, mercury, lead, isocyanates, sulfuric acid) not only intoxicate workers but are also dumped into the soil and coastal waters. An average size ship contains up to 7 tonnes of asbestos which is often sold in the local communities after scrapping.

As the majority of yards have no waste management systems or facilities to prevent pollution, shipbreaking takes an enormous toll on the surrounding environment, the local communities, fishery, agriculture, flora and fauna. This naturally causes serious environmental damage with long-term effects for occupational, public and environmental health.

To address this problem, the ILO, International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Basel Convention of UNEP have produced their guidelines to deal with various issues in this area within their respective mandates and established a joint working group to co-ordinate their activities and cooperation. The diplomatic conference of the IMO adopted a new international convention for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships in 2009.

Like it is done to shipborne seafarers, it would be appreciated also in this regard, should NIMASA show commensurate concern towards the protection of this category of workers in our vast and mainly private sector dominated maritime domain.

In line with Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria Act 2014, (Act No. 2), NIMASA should appropriately collaborate with Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON) and its licensed corporate affiliates to monitor and compel all employers engaged in the subject matter operations to ensure the delivery of appropriate professional competency developement trainings.
This is absolutely necessary for the enhancement and assurance of the health and safety of the concerned workforce.

About The Author

Timothy Iwuagwu is a retired naval engineer.(Master Warrant Officer) Specialist in Ship propulsion and control; Specialist in Industrial Safety Planning and Control Management and Fellow@Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria. He is Seafarer, who has participated in foreign naval missions and courses with Nigeria Navy Inspection Commission in Europe.

Business News

COVID-19: Nigeria’s ICPC Discovers School Feeding Funds In Private Accounts

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An anticorruption agency in Nigeria has discovered over N5 billion in private hands. The head of Nigeria’s Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, disclosed that the agency found N2.67bn meant for the school feeding programme in private accounts. An additional N2.5billion was found in the accounts of a deceased staff of the ministry of Agriculture.

Other things were discovered from the ministry such as 25 plots of land, 18 buildings and 12 business premises. All illegally diverted to private hands.

The professor of law made the announcement in Abuja. He was speaking second National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector, which was organised in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation.

The summit had the theme, ‘Together against corruption’, also included the launch of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy.

He explained further that between January and August 2020, investigations revealed that Open Treasury Portal showed that of 268 ministries, departments and agencies (MDA) 72 had infraction totaling N90milillion.

Also, 33 MDAs gave full explanation for N4.1billion transferred to sub-Treasury Single Account while N4.2 billion that had been paid to individuals could not be satisfactorily explained.

The professor added, “We observed that transfers to sub-TSA were to prevent disbursement from being monitored. Nevertheless, we discovered payments to some federal colleges for school feeding in the sum of N2.67bn during lockdown when the children are not in school, and some of the money ended up in personal accounts.”

In continuation of the agencies investigation called Constituency Tracking Initiative from last year, the ICPC also reviewed constituency and executive project. In all, 722 projects with a threshold of N100m (490 ZIP and 232 executive) were tracked across 16 states. He said the commission had special attention to track projects in agriculture, water resources, power, education and health.

The Constituency Tracking Initiative is meant to investigate fraudulent procedure and practices in the award of contracts for constituency and executive projects. And to make recoveries on projects or contracts confirmed to have been inflated or in which contractors under-performed or did not perform at all. The professor explained that projects tracked at phase one were selected by the steering committee comprising Budget Office, Office of Accountant-General of the Federation, Bureau of Public Procurement, Media, CSOs and the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors.

The ICPC helmsman said the 2020 exercise showed some improvement in project delivery, but the commission was faced with many challenges.

In details, Owasanoye said, “We discovered that a number of projects described in the budget as ongoing were new projects.”

“We discovered that projects are recommended for communities that do not need them. Such projects are abandoned, in spite of the huge sums appropriated for them.”

“We discovered that projects were sited in private houses on private land thus appropriating common assets to personal use and totally denying communities expected to benefit,” he adds.

The chairman said that the commission’s effort had forced 59 contractors handling projects worth N2.25 billion, back to sites, while it recovered and returned to beneficiaries assets worth about N700 million and cash of almost N200 million.

Owasanoye, said that the commission would, in future, prosecute false description of projects as ongoing, in accordance with extant rules. All affected projects have been listed in the ICPC’s Interim Report for 2020.

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North Africa

US Defense Secretary to Visit Morocco, Discuss Counter-terrorism

It has become a regular practice for American and Moroccan security officials to exchange visits to discuss cooperation and means to boost collaboration.

Bernard Akede

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US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is expected to arrive Morocco

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is expected in Morocco on Friday to discuss cooperations between both countries in counter-terrorism.

Esper’s visit to Morocco comes after trips to Tunisia and Algeria, a tour marking his first visit to Africa since he assumed office.

The defense secretary will open his tour on Wednesday with a visit to Tunisia to hold “bilateral talks with President Kais Ssaied and Tunisia’s Minister of Defense Ibrahim Bartagi.”

Esper is then expected to deliver a speech at the American military cemetery in Carthage, where American soldiers who died in North Africa during World War II are buried.

There are reports that the primary purpose of the visit is to further strengthen ties with Tunisia, a major ally in the region, and to discuss the threats posed by extremist organizations such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda, in the North African country. This was according to a senior US military official.

On Thursday, the Pentagon chief will then leave for Algeria to hold talks with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

According to US military sources, the visit to Algiers seeks to “deepen cooperation with Algeria on key regional security issues, such as the threat posed by extremist groups.”

Esper’s Maghreb tour will end in Rabat to “strengthen the already close relations” in the aspect of security with Morocco, recalling that the African Lion military exercise which seeks to further strengthen cooperation between international partners to combat terrorism and insurgency, is hosted by Morocco.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event had to be canceled.

While speaking to AFP, the senior official who chose to remain anonymous did not reveal whether the US defense secretary would be personally received by King Mohammed VI.

Esper’s visit to Morocco comes a week after the US ambassador to Morocco David Fischer, was received by the country’s General Director of National Security and Territorial Surveillance – DGST-DGSN – Abdellatif Hammouchi. While on that visit, bilateral cooperation between the two countries in several fields, including security was discussed.

It has become a regular practice for American and Moroccan security officials to exchange visits to discuss cooperation and means to boost collaboration.

The U.S long ago described the Moroccan anti-terror approach as “comprehensive.”

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Central Africa News

Congo Lifts COVID-19 Curfew

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The Republic of Congo has lifted an imposed nationwide curfew in 10 regions and relaxed it in two main cities.

The curfew will now be enforced from 11pm to 5am local time in Pointe Noire and the capital, Brazzaville.

Since 14 March, the country has reported nearly 5,000 cases of Covid-19.

Several rights groups recently called for the full lifting of the curfew, saying relaxation of the measure has been counterproductive and has led to unemployment.

Meanwhile, 363 Angolans recently returned back to their country months after been stranded in the Republic of Congo and DR Congo since the outbreak of the coronavirus in March.

The returnees were welcomed back to the northern Cabinda Province of the country by the Angolan deputy consul in Muanda, Congo Central Province (DRC), Felisberto Zua, and the municipal administrator of Cabinda, Berta Marciano.

Speaking at the event, Zua said the repatriation process happened in a normal manner, further stressing that there are still many compatriots who are willing to return to Angola.

In DR Congo’s capital Kinshasa, taking temperatures and washing hands are still the norm in the residential district of Gombe, which is also the city’s diplomatic and economic centre.

But in working-class communities, masks are being pushed down to the chin and people are shaking hands again just like it is in Nigeria and major countries across the continent..

For many the latest buzz phrase is “corona eza te”, which translates to “there is no corona” in the local Lingala.

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