The Nigerian Navy has raised the alarm over the disturbing number of abandoned and sinking vessels within the country’s water ways.
The Navy said over 35 of such maritime wrecks have been identified between Marina, Kirikiri, Tin Can Island and Navy Town water ways and also the channel leading to Badagry.
Addressing journalists in Lagos, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, said maritime wrecks is causing a lot of hazard within the waterways.
He said the wrecks were preventing easy navigation of vessels and had destroyed a vessel belonging to the Nigerian Navy, the NNS CALABAR which was destroyed while on patrol within the Kirikiri /Tin Can Island water ways.
He said: “The danger is that during high water, the wrecks are submerged and pose a great threat to maritime safety. The hazard associated with submerged wreck in our water ways is huge. These wrecks are littered along the waterways and constitute navigational hazards as well as endanger safety of shipping.”
Admiral Daji lamented the problems associated with wrecks within the waterways saying: “The hazard associated with these wrecks is that most often, especially during high water, they are submerged and hardly visible to mariners and, therefore, pose greatest threats during this period of time.
“Apart from endangering shipping, most of the wrecks also constitute environmental pollution and hazards.
“I do not think it portrays us as a country with laws and regulations in good light, especially to the global shipping community,” he said.
The FOC said in addition, there are several navigational aids like the oils, markings, and light houses that are not functional or missing or have shifted from their intended original positions, adding that “the absence of these navigational aids also constitute risks to shipping, especially at night or during restricted visibilities.
“You will recall that just a few months ago, one of our vessels, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Calabar, while moving along the harbours for patrols, was involved in a mishap and struck a submerged wreck, just in the middle of the channel.
“You will all agree with me that this can be avoided if those wrecks are promptly removed when they were identified.”
He said that the removal of the wrecks would have saved a lot of down time for the availability of the vessel, noting that, “it would as well save us the money and resources that will be put into making that vessel operational which would have been deployed into better and more productive endeavours.