• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

In response to the rising incidents of boat mishaps in the country, the Nigerian Navy, NNS Pathfinder under the Eastern Naval Command, executed a comprehensive search and rescue simulation exercise aimed at saving lives at sea and mitigating casualties associated with boat mishaps within the nation’s maritime domain.

Directed by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, the exercise included collaboration with 10 other agencies, such as the Nigerian Airforce, Nigerian Army, Civil Defence, Police, NEMA, NIMASA, NIWA, NPA, the Rivers State Government, among others.

Commodore Desmond Igbo, the Naval Commander of NNS Pathfinder, highlighted the Navy’s commitment to protecting lives at sea alongside safeguarding the maritime environment. The simulation aimed to enhance the capabilities of various maritime stakeholders in emergency Search and Rescue (SAR) operations, encouraging the activation of the Rivers State Government’s Emergency SAR team.

Igbo emphasized the need for the Nigerian Navy to not only secure the maritime environment and assets but also fulfill its mandate to protect lives and properties. The simulation exercise involved Naval boats and ships deployed strategically in the creeks to respond promptly to emergencies.

Rivers State Governor Siminalayi Fubara, represented by Deputy Governor Ngozi Odu, commended the Nigerian Navy for organizing the exercise and hinted at plans to revitalize the State Emergency Management Agency. The Governor recalled the heroic act of Joe Blankson, a Rivers indigene who sacrificed his life to rescue 14 persons during a boat mishap in 2018.

Police Commissioner Olatunji Disu expressed the readiness of the marine Police to collaborate with other agencies in conducting rescue operations within the state’s waterways. He emphasized the crucial role of the marine Police in water operations.

The Port Harcourt Area Manager of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Surv. Bernard Ekawu, reiterated NIWA’s commitment to safety on waterways, highlighting established search and rescue centers across all area offices. Ekawu emphasized adherence to safety protocols, including restrictions on sailing at night, boat overloading, and ensuring the use of life jackets.

South-South Zonal Coordinator of NEMA, Mr. Adebiyi Razaq, represented by Zonal Secretary Mr. Ochoche Samson Ochepo, mentioned ongoing advocacy and sensitization efforts by NEMA to reduce disasters on waterways.

The collaborative efforts of various agencies underscore a holistic approach towards enhancing safety and security on Nigeria’s waterways.

Hyacinth Beluchukwu Nwafor

Hyacinth Beluchukwu Nwafor is a seasoned journalist and the CEO/Founder Belch Digital Communications, publishers of Hybrid News Nigeria.

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