Story By Izuchukwu Ozoemena.
The Nigerian Hydrographic Society (NHS) has sought the support of key maritime parastatals, including the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in efforts to drive her professional training programmes for the benefit of professionals in Nigeria.
NPA Hydrographer-General, Mr. Olumide Omotoso, disclosed this while speaking on the forthcoming zonal hydrographic summit scheduled to hold in Lagos. Omotoso who is also the chairman, NHS Lagos/South West Zone, disclosed that the society has designed a curriculum in hydrography to expand the scope of training expected to take off under the Institute of Maritime Studies at the University of Lagos.
Omotoso said that the professional training initiative would benefit not just Nigeria, but Africa as professional hydrographers would be sufficiently empowered to render services in the maritime sector.
“We have been able to design a curriculum that is coming in the University of Lagos under the Institute of Maritime Studies. The programme in hydrography should be something that is sustainable, feeding African countries because as we speak today, there is no civil hydrographic programme in the area of capacity building in Africa,” Omotoso said.
He revealed that the programme is being syndicated with the office of the Surveyor General of the Federation, the NPA, NIMASA and all the stakeholders in the maritime sector. “We have informed the International Hydrographic Organisation, and they have accepted that we go ahead and create this programme. We have been able to scheme that, and it is ready on paper. We are hoping the NPA, NIMASA will buy into it so that it can be sustainable, and we can begin to train hydrographic professionals, an idea that the NPA Managing Director supports.”
On assessing the standards of hydrographic services in Nigeria with regard to standards in practice, Omotoso said the global authority in charge of such assessment would be in Nigeria in that regard.
“The International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) in charge of marine navigational aids globally is coming to Nigeria very soon to check the integrity of all navigational aids in our waters. So, the world will know if we are compliant or not. We are working with all stakeholders to take IALA round all our waters to see what we have been doing,” Omotoso said.
He also disclosed that for the 2018 IALA Summit scheduled to hold in Turkey, the NPA would be presenting a paper on its activities in terms of hydrographic works, which he described as the backbone of marine aids to navigation.
The NPA Hydrographer General, however, frowned at the non-existence of a hydrographic policy which, he said, should give priority to charting the Nigerian waters.
“We need national hydrographic policies that give priority to charting our waters and updating it by ourselves. But it has to be a national programme. As I speak to you, the limitation in the national maritime policy is what dovetails into the national hydrographic policy.
“In the United States of America, every year, channels are prioritized. Government says ‘this channel is my priority and we will do it and produce the charts’. But Nigeria does not have such a system in place.”
However, he noted, the NPA has continually ensured to keep wrecks off the busy channels and have information update as submitted to the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office, which is the authority in charge of the region including Nigeria.
“I can tell you that the information that we have concerning the busy channels as at today, which can be confirmed globally, is that our charts and hydrographic surveys are being rendered to the charting authority over Nigeria.” he said. He added that NHS’ routine wreck surveys have ensured adequate monitoring of wrecks and drifts.