From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, has suspended the contract for the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) being operated by Ocean Marine Solutions Ltd (OMSL), describing it as criminal and illegal.
Amaechi, who addressed the media Monday in Lagos after a security meeting with maritime stakeholders, organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said that “an individual cannot protect a country, it shows that there is a failure in the system.”
The minister insisted that rather than a private initiative on secure anchorage outside the country’s port system, all ships coming into the country must anchor at the national ports under the NPA.
He assured that when fully operational, NIMASA’s Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, also called the Deep Blue Project, would drastically reduce piracy and other crimes within Nigeria’s maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea.
According to him, government was addressing the insecurity on the Nigerian waterways, and in a few months from now, it would be reduced, if not totally eradicated. He noted: “There is an upsurge in insecurity in the country and it is becoming a bit alarming.
“In 2016, we secured the approval of both Mr. President and the cabinet to introduce a maritime architecture, which is coming to fruition. The Israelis will provide the training, the rest will be manned by Nigerian security – the navy, army and the police.”
Meanwhile, the NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, disclosed that over 80 per cent of the maritime security equipment would be in the country by June, adding that those already in the country included six interceptor boats and a special mission vessel, with a second expected before the end of February.
According to him, six armoured aircraft are already in the country, the first unmanned aerial vehicle would come in before the end of February, and the first special mission aircraft will be in the country before the end of March.
“We expect the first helicopter in the first quarter of this year,” he said. “Almost all the communication gadgets are in the country, as well as the Personal Protective Gear (PPG). The C4i Centre is fully operational at the NIMASA Research Centre at Kirikiri.
“However, between now and June this year, over 80 per cent of the assets would be in the country and would be manned by Nigerian military.”