UN raises alarm over stranded ships, seafarers in Ukraine
—-food supplies running low
Eyewitness reporter with agency report.
The United Nations has raised the alarm over the dangerous situation that stranded ships with their crew are facing in Ukraine as all efforts to evacuate them are getting difficult.
It is estimated that more than 1,000 seafarers are stranded on 100 ships that are caught in the cross-fire between the Russian and Ukrainian forces.
Shipping officials have said that food and medical supplies to these stranded crew are running low amidst apprehension over their safety.
Russia’s military took control of waterways when it invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, in what Moscow calls a “special operation”.
At least 100 foreign-flagged ships with over 1,000 seafarers have been stuck since then inside Ukrainian ports with food supplies running low, shipping officials say.
According to Reuters, the UN shipping agency the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said this month it would seek to create a safe maritime corridor to enable merchant ships and their crews to sail out of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov without the risk of being hit.
“The IMO Secretariat is working with both Ukraine and the Russian Federation to try and assist the safe departure of the ships and their crew,” an IMO spokesperson said.
“However, at present, the ongoing security risks preclude the option for ships to depart from ports in Ukraine.”
Multiple issues including the risk of mines is complicating efforts, sources with knowledge of the situation say.
In recent days Turkish and Romanian military diving teams have been involved in defusing stray mines around their waters, underscoring the broader dangers.
“Efforts to establish these safe blue corridors are extremely challenging,” the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said.
An ICS spokesperson added that it was trying to deliver provisions to affected vessels, “which are in grave danger of running out of food in the coming days as well as ensuring that vessels are not targeted for any kinetic strikes by any party”.
Five merchant vessels have been hit by projectiles – with one of them sunk – off Ukraine’s coast with two seafarers killed, shipping officials say.
London’s marine insurance market has widened the area of waters it considers high risk in the region.
In a circular letter issued to the IMO on Monday, Russia said it had established a humanitarian maritime corridor starting from March 27 “with the aim of ensuring safe passage” from the Ukrainian ports of Chernomorsk, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Ochakov, Odesa and Yuzhne.
Russia said the corridor, which would operate daily, represented an 80-mile long and 3-mile wide marine traffic lane from the assembly area.
“The Russian side calls on competent authorities of Ukraine to provide for the safety and security of the merchant vessels and their crews’ transition to the assembly area,” it said in the circular.
Ukraine’s Maritime Administration is aware of Russia’s announcement, its deputy head Victor Vyshnov said, which was first made by Russian warships to commercial ships last week.
The IMO spokesperson said its Secretariat had circulated Russia’s communication.
But Vyshnov said any boundaries for the corridor announced by Russia had not been agreed upon by Ukraine.
“This is just a new sign of Russian propaganda,” he told Reuters.
“Due to the ongoing aggression against Ukraine, and Russian mine-laying activities at sea, no one can guarantee shipping safety in this region.”
Vyshnov said there were preconditions for the safe evacuation of ships.
“Russia must fully stop the hostilities, withdraw its troops and ensure the freedom and safety of navigation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, including by carrying out mine-sweeping or allowing other littoral states to do this job,” he said.
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“Given the impact the closure will have on Port users, the Authority in partnership with LASTMA, Police, FRSC, and the Nigerian Navy have worked out alternative routes and are on the ground to manage the traffic situation in the affected areas.
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NIMASA collaborates with NCC to regulate submarine cable operation for enhanced navigational safety on Nigerian waters
The eyewitness reporter
Apparently alarmed by the indiscriminate laying of communication cables and pipelines underneath the Nigerian waters by telecommunications operators and other allied professionals which has the potential of harming the safe navigation of ships, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA) has engaged the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in a strategic discussion to forge a formidable synergy with other relevant stakeholders with a view to developing a regulatory framework to provide operational guidelines for submarine Cable and Pipeline Operators in Nigeria.
Officials of both organs of Government in Lagos reached this agreement at a pre Audit meeting on submarine cable regulation.
The Director General of NIMASA Dr. Bashir Jamoh, who chaired the meeting, which also had the Director General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) Mr. Dasuki Arabi in attendance, noted that the Agency is committed to the Ease of Doing Business while implementing International Conventions which Nigeria has ratified and domesticated.
He noted that with Nigeria now a destination for global communication players, the time has come to prevent unregulated underwater cable laying, which might become hazardous to shipping.
According to him, “It is worthy to note that marine cable laying has been ongoing for over two decades in Nigerian waters.
“Our focus is to ensure the safety of navigation of shipping in Nigerian waters with all these underwater cables being laid.
“NIMASA is actually developing the guidelines to regulate submarine cable operators in line with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS; which we have ratified and NIMASA is the Agency of Government in Nigeria responsible for its implementation.
“Collaboration is a key component of ease of doing business in the best interest of the country and we will work closely with the NCC to achieve this”.
On his part, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, who was represented by the Director, Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement, Efosa Idehen, noted that the stakeholders’ dialogue strategy adopted by NIMASA in developing the guidelines would ensure a win-win situation, urging NIMASA management to include the Ministry of Justice, a request NIMASA DG immediately granted.
Also speaking at the meeting was the Director General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms Mr. Dasuki Arabi, who commended NIMASA and NCC for adopting effective Inter-Agency collaboration to avert a potential challenge for the country in the future.
NIMASA had notified submarine and cable operators in Nigeria of a soon-to-be-implemented regulatory guideline for submarine cables and pipelines in Nigeria, in line with the provisions of UNCLOS.
NIMASA and the NCC agreed to identify and resolve areas of likely regulatory overlaps, ensuring a regulatory framework based on consultation to engender the attainment of Nigeria’s digital economy transformation.
Officials of the Federal Ministry of Environment and representatives of Submarine Cable operators in Nigeria were also at the meeting.
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