Need for a National Hydrographic Commission – HydroPro Group

The Hydrographic Professional (HydroPro) Group, a civil hydrographic initiative of survey practitioners, has called for the establishment of a National Hydrographic Commission to enable synergy between the military and civil components of hydrography practice, for the development of the maritime space as is done globally.

National Coordinator of HydroPro Group of the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS), Mr. Olumide Omotoso, made the call during a virtual meeting held on Sunday by the group on the occasion of the World Hydrography Day 2020 themed “ Hydrography: Enabling Autonomous Technologies.”

The autonomous technology, autonomous vehicles are part of the things used remotely to carry out the hydrography within the maritime space.

Speaking, Omotoso said “The Government needs to set up the National Hydrographic Commission where the military and the civil component work together to develop the maritime space, and everybody carries out their duties as is done in all organisations all over the world.

“The UK Hydrographic Office is a typical example, where the military is, the civil is, and both of them are under the National Hydrographic Organisation; synergy and collaboration.

“The Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office is military. On inland waters, room should be for the civil populace.

“The Nigerian Navy has jurisdiction over the territorial waters, so, its concern should be how to chart the territorial waters as that is purely for security. While the civil hydrographers handle those of the inland waters, the ports.”

“That is how it is done all over the world. The civil hydrographic programme cannot be subsumed under the military hydrography because, the two purposes are not the same. In the US, there is the Civil Hydrographic Office.”

According to Omotoso, a clear-cut demarcation of the roles between the military and civil hydrographic practice would engender greater investment opportunities for use of technology to advance the space of hydrography as less than 30 per cent of the nation’s waters are charted.

In his contributions, National Secretary of the HydroPro Group, Mr. Abimbola Bolarinwa, called for policy consideration of the local content recognition to enable Nigerians take part in civil hydrographic surveys especially in the oil and gas industry where such jobs are handled by foreigners, but for very few small jobs done by locals.

“The major task is with government on policies that would localise the content of the execution of hydrographic survey in Nigeria.

“But, as it stands now, it is not totally localised. And if it is not totally localised, there is no way an individual or a small corporation can now use an autonomous vehicle for hydrographic survey.

“With less than 30 % of Nigerian waterways charted, it is an enormous work to be done,” Bolarinwa said.

The group is also advocating for government policy to compel foreign surveyors to identify with the surveyors’ body first before they engage in any work.

As Bolarinwa added that: “They should do the quality assurance and quantity test first, in order to assure that information they are giving is the best that we have. It will also reduce the influx, so that local hydrographers can have jobs, or there should be a collaboration.”

The 2020 WHD theme looks at how autonomous technology has really impacted the maritime environment with respect to the application of hydrography to navigation.

Explaining the theme, Omotoso said “Specifically, we need to identify the entire assets in the marine environment. It is all based on what hydrography does in terms of facility, navigation, dredging, aids to navigation and even telecommunication.

“The importance of what we are talking today, to carryout surveys in the waters remotely without having contact with the body of water, especially in this times of COVID-19 where people want to do things remotely, where the social distancing is a problem, autonomous technology is key solution.

HydroPro Group is a Civil Hydrographic Initiative of survey practitioners towards developing & deepening the Maritime Geospatial space and the Civil Hydrographic Programme (CHP) of the Nigerian economy under this democratic administration.

The group aims to advocate for the establishment of the Nigerian Hydrographic Organisation (NHO) or National Hydrographic Commission (NHC) similar to what obtains in other countries like UK- UKHO, US- NOAA/NAVOCEAN.

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