An expert in Marine Industry, Hon Ben George Don has called on the Federal Government to provide vessels with marine fire fighting equipments at all the ports and jetties in the country.
Hon Odon, who made the call in his office at Abuloma Jetty, Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Wednesday while reacting to the recent fire outbreak on a service boat that exploded during a mentainance work, killing all the crew members including some visitors on board at the Jetty last Friday said the provision of such vessel would enable quick response in case of fire incident on marine vessels.
He said the absence of such marine fire fighting services had led to the complete burnt down of the vessel at the Abuloma Jetty that also affected four badges, two crew boats and a supply vessel anchored at the jetty.
Narrating the incident, Hon Odon, who is the Vice Chairman, Marine Equipment Owners, Leasing Association of Nigeria (MEOLAN) disclosed that the vessel in question was a foreign vessel from Warri, Delta State, and that the fire started at about 8.15am and lasted for hours before the arrival of the Rivers State Fire service later.
According to him, it was pathetic as the state fire service could not put-off the inferno as a result of non-availability of proper chemicals to fight such crude vessels and they left while the fire was still burning.
He said as a developing country, the government should invest in marine fire service to respond quickly to such incident, adding that it would safe lives and is faster since there would be no hold-up on the river.
The marine expert also said since Nigeria export her produce through the port or water ways, there is urgent need to provide fire fighting marine vessels, with well trained personnel and sophisticated equipments.
He further hinted that the association would take appropriate measures to guide against future occurrence and advised vessel and badge owners to thoroughly clean them before embarking on any welding or mentainance work, pointing out that they should be safety conscious at all times.
Hon Odon, who is the chief Executive Office of Base Marine, Abuloma Jetty, Rivers State however expressed dismay over the activities of Nigeria Maritime and Safety Administration Agency (NIMASA) and the National Inland Waterways Authority for only concerning themselves with issuance of licenses, documentation of vessels to operate off shore or collect money form badges, crew and tug boats that operates within Nigerian territorial waters as well as penalysed defaulting sea vessels that failed to comply, stressing that there is need to over-haul these sectors for better performance.
Efforts to reach the Zonal Co-ordinator of NIMASA, Mr Oladele Abass for comments proved abortive.
Meanwhile, an unconfirmed report said there were $17-crew members with visitors on board before the unfortunate incident, and that only five corpses were seen while three are receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital in Port Harcourt.