Lagos — As the Coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic continue to ravage the world, maritime industry experts are of the opinion that it will change the industry.
While speaking on the impact of the Coronavirus, Chairman of the Port Consultative Council, PCC, Otunba Kunle Folarin, said that part of the aftermath of the pandemic will be a re-configuration of vessels.
Folarin also said that even the crewing of vessels will also be changed as more ship owners will want to deploy health workers on board their vessels.
He explained that the effect will be more in regions where shipping has been highly developed but added that the ripple effect will change the entire gamut of shipping forever.
Explaining further, Folarin said that there will be attempts to reduce the human component of vessels adding that 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 business 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 are 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 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, noted that the shipping industry can never remain the same after the 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 adjustment 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.