World Hydrography Day: Transportation Minister Expresses Worries Over Wrecked, Abandoned Vessels

…as stakeholders call for effective management of wastes

By: Okosun Dennis

As the Nigerian Navy celebrated the World Hydrography Day 2022, the Minister of Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki has said that the era of reckless abandonment of wrecked vessels in the Nigerian waters is over as the ministry would work with the Nigerian Navy and other agencies in the maritime sector to deal with the behemoth.

She spoke as the Special Guest of Honour at the World Hydrography Day Celebration 2022 which was held at the Admirality Conference Centre, Naval Dockyard Limited Victoria Island, on Tuesday in Lagos.

Warning that the era of continued abandonment of “vessels in our waters with impunity and with no dire consequences” must stop, she averred that over 40 wrecks have been identified and they are affecting economic growth. However, she continued, her ministry would work with the Nigerian Navy to address the problem of wreckages.

In her address, she eulogized the Navy Hydrography for the successes achieved so far, adding that the recent acquisition of a 60-meter offshore survey vessel; NNS LANA, which has assisted the Nigerian Navy carry out survey and charting of Nigerian waters, has received global accolade, with NNS LANA, awarded the “Best Large Research Vessel in the world for the Year 2022.”

On combating piracy, Hon Gbemisola Saraki commended the success at combating piracy and crimes at sea in the Gulf of Guinea and in our own territorial waters.

“Today marks five months of zero attack. This is the first time in 28 years that there has been no attack. This is a feat being duly recognized by the International Maritime Bureau. I congratulate the Federal Government, The Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Navy and of course, NIMASA on this remarkable achievement.

While applauding the decision by the United Nations General Assembly to set 21st of June every year as the World Hydrography Day, she noted that it only goes to show the importance attached to the role hydrography plays in all activities within the ocean.

“The oceans have been of immense importance both as a medium for global trade and a source of livelihood to humankind, as well as revenue generation for Governments.”

In an interview, the Minister while speaking on the low rate of women participation in hydrography, she observed that women play a major role in the economic development of the country but through advocacy and sensitization, more women will get involved.

“Every day is Hydrography Day to a Naval Officer or a Cadet. Like other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, hydrography has traditionally seen low rates of female participation,” she reiterated.

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In a keynote address, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo applauded the Nigerian Navy for repositioning the country in good light, joining the league of chart producing nations with the first indigenous navigational chart which was unveiled two years ago.

“Within two years, they have nine more navigational paper charts and five cells of Electronic Navigational Charts have been produced.

The CNS further added that the Navy has achieved yet another milestone in developing hydrographic capacity, galvanising into the production of two Nautical publications: “Symbols and Abbreviations used on Nigeria’s Paper Charts” and “Rules of the Road” as well as NNS LANA maiden magazine: “the Gondola”
which were unveiled during the event.

In the same vein, stakeholders observed that the indiscriminate throwing of waste especially plastics into the ocean constitute great danger to aquatic lives. They noted that if the trend should continue, in the next decade or so, plastics might replace fish in the oceans which would by extension affect the economic prosperity of the country.

Earlier the Hydrographer of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Chukwuemeka Okafor cautioned against the increasing human activities that are resulting to marine pollution, ocean acidification, overfishing and sea level rise among others, which directly impinge on the intricate workings, that keep the oceans and our planet, in a perfect symbiotic balance.

Outlining the importance of hydrography and the ocean play in human capacity development, the Hydrographer of NN pointed out that over more than 3.5 billion people depend on the oceans for their primary source of food.

Therefore, the oceans provide numerous medicinal and health benefits to us, as many bio-medical products, which we take, are derived from marine plant and animal sources within the oceans.

The theme for 2022 World Hydrographic Day; was “Hydrography: Contributing to the United Nations Ocean Decade”.

Several papers were presented by scholars to mark the celebration. Also, there were exhibitions by different stakeholders and the Nigerian Navy.

In attendance were the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Lucky Irabor who was represented by the Chief of Defence Policy and Plans, AVM Ayo Jolasemi; both Service Chiefs of the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Airforce, who were represented by the General Officer Commanding, 81 Division, Major General Umar Musa and Air Officer Commanding, Logistics Command respectively and the Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh.

Others included, Senate Committee Chairman on Navy, Senator George Sekibo; CP Paul Odama who represented the Lagos State Commissioner of Police; Chief Obembe, the Obanikoro of Lagos who represented the Oba of Lagos, Naval officers, members of the academia and stakeholders in the maritime sector.

Post Author: Friday Ekeoba