COVID-19: NIMASA joins battle to save lives, receives Public applause-By Chukwudi Ejimofor

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    Coordinator, Abuja Zonal Office, NIMASA, Mr. Zailani Musa Attah (left), handing over medical facilities and equipment donated by the Agency to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, Presidential Task Force Mr. Boss mustapha.

    At a time the world is facing a pandemic occasioned by the novel Coronavirus, nations are looking for support from every angle, as death figures continue to rise, especially in Asia, Europe, and North America, just as available health facilities have been stretched beyond projections.

    Here in Nigeria, with limited resources available to both federal and state governments, they reached out to corporate bodies, organizations, public spirited individuals and governmental agencies that could support the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

    The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) under the management team led by Dr. Bashir Jamoh, has risen to the occasion by providing a number of medical equipment and items such as ventilators, ambulances, buses and response vessels to the Federal Government, Lagos State, and Anambra State Governments towards the fight against the spread of COVID 19.

    The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, while receiving the items said the Federal Government requires the cooperation of all and sundry, corporate bodies and individuals, in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic that is ravaging the world, stressing that the fight against COVID-19 as a collective responsibility.

    The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said the Agency was deploying its existing facilities, such as fast intervention vessels, ambulances, and buses, among others, to support the efforts by the Federal and State Governments to solve a national medical emergency that required all hands on deck.

    The materials donated included ventilators, oxygen concentrators, personal protective equipment, rapid test kits, and hand sanitizers, as well as a cash donation of N30 million.

    Commending NIMASA for the gesture, Mustapha advised other organizations and well-meaning Nigerians to emulate the Agency and support the efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic, so that Nigerians could live their normal lives again.

    The SGF stated, “I wish to restate that this is a war on Nigeria and the Federal Government, in conjunction with other stakeholders, will continue to do all it takes to win this war as we are more prepared than ever before to ensure we protect the lives of our citizens.
    “Let me encourage Nigerians to endure this lockdown order as it is not intended to trample on their fundamental human rights, rather it is to assist government trace infected persons and curb the spread. In no distant time, we will all go back to our normal lives.”

    Speaking at the occasion, Jamoh praised the Federal Government’s proactive steps to contain the pandemic. He declared that COVID-19 was a challenge Nigeria must overcome, saying he is satisfied to see that the Agency’s existing facilities are coming in handy in the attempt to contain the outbreak.

    The Director-General, who was represented by Coordinator, Abuja Zonal Office of the Agency, Mr. Zailani Musa Attah, stated, “We at NIMASA have decided to deploy our extant capacities and facilities in the fight against this pandemic.

    We did not invest new funds in purchasing these ambulances and buses. We simply deployed them to fight this common enemy. COVID-19 is a common enemy and all hands must be on deck to win the war against it at this critical time in the country’s history.

    “We have had to readjust our priorities to contribute our quota to the urgent need to get Nigeria out of this national emergency. I wish to commend the efforts of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and your dexterity in ensuring Nigeria is totally free from this virus. As a responsible Agency, we will continue to support the government’s efforts across the board and I am confident that collectively, we will win this fight with the help of the Almighty.” Jamoh stated.

    NIMASA had recently made similar donations to the Lagos State government at the flag-off of the anti-COVID-19 campaign, which the Agency plans to take to the six geopolitical zones of the country. It also pledged that there were handy volunteers from the Agency and experts ready to work with the government.

    Presenting the sum of N20 millon and items to the Governor of Lagos, Dr. Jamoh stated that the Agency felt it’s necessary to make the donations to Lagos, as the state remains the epicenter for the virus in Nigeria, commending Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for being proactive in his response to the pandemic, disclosing that all geopolitical zones would benefit from the NIMASA’s humanitarian gesture.

    Said he: “I want to commend Mr. Governor, for his exemplary leadership in the management of this pandemic, we as a regulatory Agency felt it was necessary to support the state as responsible tenants of Lagos and we hope this would go a long way in our collective effort in fighting COVID-19”

    “Our donations are not limited to Lagos alone, this is just the flag-off, we will also make donations to other states affected and as well ensure that all geopolitical zones of the country benefit; this we will continue to do as we fight against this deadly scourge”, he said.

    Commenting on the vessels that were made available to the state, the NIMASA DG stated that it would assist Lagos in responding to incidents in the coastal states for anchorage evacuation if need be, and that the crew onboard are volunteer staff from the Agency who have been trained for manning the Fast Intervention Vessels.

    Dr. Jamoh appreciated the Federal Government for its timely response to the pandemic, stating that the government has created roles for the necessary agencies to fight the scourge.

    He particularly commended the efforts of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in responding to infected persons as he also appealed to the media to play their roles in sensitizing the public stressing that everyone has a role to play in the fight against the pandemic.

    An elated Lagos State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Rabiu Olowo, who received the items on behalf of the state government, said they were overwhelmed by the goodwill and support from NIMASA.

    “This is most welcomed and on behalf of the governor and the good people of Lagos State, I say thank you. As you are all aware Lagos State is the epic center of this pandemic in Nigeria. Everyone is fighting this pandemic across the globe.

    “We have seen the response of the State to this and the true leadership of Mr. Governor in fighting this. This donation will go a long way in supporting and complementing the state effort towards fighting this Pandemic,” he stressed.

    Items handed over include ventilators, ambulance, fast intervention vessels, buses, oxygen concentrators, personal protective equipment, and hand sanitizers, amongst others.

    NIMASA extended its humanitarian gesture to Anambra State, where it equally donated medical materials for use in the efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and treat those already infected.

    The Secretary to the Anambra State Government, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, who received the materials on behalf of the state government, commended the Management of NIMASA and pledged that the materials will be well utilized. Among the materials donated were ventilators, oxygen concentrators, and hand sanitizers.

    Recall, internally NIMASA and Nigerian Shippers Council had already collaborated to sustain shipping during the COVID-19 period, without endangering the lives of Nigerians.

    Speaking when the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barrister Hassan Bello led some stakeholders to the NIMASA head office in Lagos, Dr. Jamoh stated that the guidelines for vessels calling at the Nigerian Ports recently issued by the NIMASA was to ensure shipping activities continue in a way that would not allow the spread of COVID-19.

    He added that while the Federal Government is concerned about the lives of the citizens in the country, the economy must be sustained, hence the need for collaboration with relevant Agencies, like the Shippers’ Council.

    He acknowledged the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down activities in the sector but appealed for more understanding as the global economy is going through a trying time, for which Nigeria is not exempted.

    “We are in trying times and all hands must be on deck to sustain the Nigerian economy. Let me assure all stakeholders and the shipping community that on our part as a regulatory Agency we will continue to embrace collaboration. This is a phase and it will soon be over, because today’s pains are necessary for tomorrow’s gains,” he stressed.

    Speaking further, on the guidelines, Dr. Jamoh noted that it was issued based on consultations with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and inline with best global practices, adding that the guidelines are still open to review as time goes on, all in the best interest of everybody involved.

    “The world was not prepared for the pandemic and that is why we are trying to ease the pressure on our industry, while taking necessary precautions to safeguard lives. We will continue to review these guidelines where necessary to ensure that shipping does not suffer, especially when it comes to the movement of medical facilities through the sea,” Jamoh stated.

    In the same vein, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barrister Hassan Bello, corroborated the stance of the NIMASA DG and appealed for more cooperation and collaboration from the shipping companies and stakeholders in the sector.
    He gave the assurance that Federal Government Agencies in the sector will endeavor to work together and synergise to ensure ease of information sharing through a single data window, as it will help the sector to grow.

    Accordingly, he stated that “at this period, we must sustain our economy through shipping, though it is a delicate balance, considering the havoc the pandemic has caused the globe that is why we are working hand in hand to ensure ports activities continue, while not being detrimental to human lives”.

    Earlier, representatives of some shipping companies, who attended the meeting appealed to the Agency to consider voyages less than 14 days in the marine notice review in order to avoid undue delay and port congestion. They also commended the proactive efforts of the Agency in issuing the notice.

    The Managing Director, PIL Shipping, Jack Langrishe, Managing Director, Ports & Terminal Multiservice Limited, Ascanio Russo, General Manager, ARKAS Line, Iain Lindsay and the Executive Directors of NIMASA were also present at the meeting

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