COVID-19 Pandemic: Saluting the Resilience of the Maritime Industry | The Guardian Nigeria News

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic took the world by storm in early 2020, unleashing strange disease and death on humanity, devastating economies, disrupting lifestyles and generally bringing the world literally to its knees. . Development forced countries around the world into lockdown, primarily in an effort to limit the spread of the disease and put in place strategies to address the existential threat it posed to humanity.

The pandemic had negative effects on all sectors of the economy, causing many sectors to shut down, with losses that could not really be quantified. For the shipping industry, the challenge was enormous, perhaps more than what other sectors were facing, due to its particular nature and the strategic role it plays in the global economy and, extension, in the life of the entire world population.

The shipping industry accounts for over 85% of world trade, responsible for transporting goods to the farthest ends of the earth. And while the world was at a standstill, industry needed to find a way to keep goods moving around the world, to ensure that other vital sectors – like pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and food – remain active.

Along with aviation, the shipping industry has ensured the distribution of pharmaceuticals, including drugs and medical equipment used in the fight against COVID-19, around the world. Indeed, it would not be far from the truth to suggest that the industry has contributed enormously to the world’s ability to keep the rate of infections and deaths to manageable levels.

The Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty 2020 report shows that at the height of the pandemic, the shipping industry has shown great resilience, maintaining strong trade volumes that are expected to exceed those of 2019, after a slight decline during the period under review. The industry recorded losses well below what was expected in the face of a crisis that was taking on new proportions every day. In fact, the report says that despite the economic devastation wrought by COVID-19, total losses remained at an all-time high for the third straight year.

The resilience of the shipping industry in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and its ability to operate optimally in a global environment where other sectors of the economy have been crippled is a demonstration of its ability to withstand any adversity. It’s proof of his ability to rise above all circumstances to stay relevant in the lives of people around the world. This testifies, for example, to the fact that with the cooperation of all stakeholders, the threat that piracy and other forms of crime pose to global maritime trade can be overcome.

In Nigeria, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Security Agency (NIMASA) has been working to ensure a maritime environment that is not only safe but also secure so that the impact of COVID-19 does not take place feel, in order to allow business economic and social activities to flourish. That has been the concern of the agency’s current leadership, which took office at a time when the pandemic was beginning to ravage the world, early last year.

In collaboration with various key stakeholders, NIMASA has adopted several measures and strategies to address the insecurity in the country’s waterways up to the Gulf of Guinea, which was so severe at a time when the region was perceived as the environment the most dangerous and least safe sea in the world. . And as a result, Nigeria has borne the brunt of this negative perception in the form of astronomically high insurance premiums, known throughout the industry as the “war risk clause”, applied to incoming cargoes. into the country from any part of the world, for the simple reason that it accounts for about 70 percent of the region’s maritime trade.

Among the strategies and mechanisms the agency has adopted to combat piracy and other maritime crimes is the flagship project Deep Blue which is proving to be the game changer. country’s armed forces, police and intelligence services to continue the war in a way never seen before in this part of the world. And there are results to show. The International Maritime Organization, the umbrella body for all countries that engage in global maritime trade, has recognized a significant reduction in the rate of piracy and other crimes in Nigeria’s waterways since NIMASA launched the project in February of this year. Not to be overlooked is the legal bite the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offenses Act 2019 (SPOMO) gave the fight, which saw the agency secure 20 court convictions qualified in less than a year. .

As the third wave of COVID-19 continues to sweep through the country, the cooperation of all Nigerians, especially those involved in maritime activities, in adhering to non-pharmaceutical guidelines, in particular, is crucial not only to ensure the security and safety of the environment, but the health of citizens in a fight whose end does not seem to be in sight.

• Dr Jamoh, Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, writes exclusively for The Guardian