The Nigerian Maritime Law Association, NMLA, has said that Nigeria needs to work ahead of the 2028 adoption of the use of the autonomous vessel convention with a view to adopting growing changes in the shipping industry.

Autonomous cargo ships, also known as autonomous container ships or Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships, MASS, are crewless vessels that transport either containers or bulk cargo over navigable waters with little or no human interaction.

Speaking to Vanguard on the sidelines of the just concluded annual general meeting of the group, its President, Mrs. Funke Agbo said that the adoption of automated vessels is the one of major changes that will shape the future of shipping globally adding that Nigeria must not be left behind in this change.

Agbo also said similar technologies were being experienced in both the automobile and aviation sectors adding it was only a matter of time before this new experience is extended to the shipping sector.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, also disclosed that countries were already considering legislation that will guide the operation of autonomous vessels adding that Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind in this new technology that is about to change the mode of international shipping.

She said: “You know the world is ever-changing, there are innovations and technology is driving everything and it has an impact globally and autonomous vessels will become the new means of shipping... ."

“There are driverless vehicles and for instance in aviation, you have drones that sort things that have to do with Agriculture. They are able to go far. And so, in the shipping space, they are looking at the same thing and discussion has been going on for some time."

“It looks like there is a legislature they are trying to put in place as treaties for countries to consider, that is the way to go and the idea is to have vessels that are not driven by human beings."

“The ultimate is that a vessel going from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ with nobody on board is carrying goods and all kinds of cargoes and you have people on shore directing such vessels."

She also disclosed that the group is ready to help the government of Nigeria to fine-tune its law so as to align with the new convention.

Source - Vanguard Newspaper.

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