By Godwin Oritse
AS the Coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world, maritime industry experts are of the opinion that the outcome of the pandemic will change the outlook of the industry.
Speaking to Vanguard Maritime Report, Chairman of the Ports Consultative Council, PCC, Otunba Kunle Folarin, said that part of the aftermath of the pandemic will be a re-configuration of vessels.
Folarin noted that even the crewing of vessels will also be changed as more ship owners will want to deploy health workers on board their vessels, explaining that the effect will be more in regions where shipping has been highly developed. He added, however, that the ripple effect will change the entire gamut of shipping forever.
According to Folarin, there will be attempts to reduce the human component of vessels while social distancing of cabins in such vessels will be considered during the re-configuration.
He said: “It depends on the region of the world where maritime activities and shipping businesses are very strong. One of the major things you will notice is that the configuration of vessels will change. In other words, there will be an attempt to reduce the human component on board vessels; you will need to create a social distancing space in constructing the cabins of crewmen, unlike before when they were cramped together on board vessels.
“There will be bigger vessels in order to reduce cost; this will come up, and of course what has happened in the past where every sailing ship had a medical doctor on board will be re-introduced. These are my early comments but I will come up with a more robust disposition on this.”
On how the outcome will affect the Nigerian shipping industry, Folarin said that the issue should not be narrowed down to a particular country because maritime transport is a consequence of international trade meaning that if the cargo is there, the ship will come and then the port will work.
“So the whole structure of international trade will change seriously,” he stated.
Speaking in similar vein, National Deputy President of Chartered Institute Logistics and Transport, CILT, Dr. Alban Igwe, told Vanguard Maritime Report, that the shipping industry can never remain the same after COVID-19 would have ended.
Igwe said that COVID-19 is a global phenomenon that has impacted on the supply chain, adding that companies are making adjustments to contain the losses they have incurred or are still incurring. He was of the opinion that companies that do not have the capacity to contain the losses may go under.
He stated: “Some companies had to lay off their staff because they could not continue; prices will go up because prices now will include some risk elements; insurance will go up and people have to factor in a number of contingencies. There is going to be a lot of safety regulations by different regimes as shipping lines are also going to shoot up prices to recover from the situation.”