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Mariner Faults FG’s Use Of Private Firms For Maritime Security

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A renowned master mariner in the country, Capt Augustine Olugbode, has faulted the Federal Government’s use of private firms to manage the security of the nation’s waterways.
This is coming against the backdrop of high spate of pirate attacks, kidnapping of crew members and attacks on vessels on the nation’s waterways, as reported by the global security watchdog, International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
Olugbode, who is former President, Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM), in a statement recently, warned that Nigeria may be “sitting on a keg of gunpowder,” if the arrangement was not revoked.
Capt Olugbode, who spoke on the controversial secure anchorage area operated by Ocean Marine Services Limited (OMSL), said under the OMSL contract, vessels calling at Nigerian ports paid $2,500 to OMSL for security and protection against attacks at a location mapped out around the Lagos harbour described as Secure Anchorage Area.
He described the security contract as a contrast to the international maritime laws.
“The contract is in contravention of international maritime laws and could jeopardise the security of the country.
“The issue of secure anchorage allowing a private firm to manage security of our waterways is like sitting on a keg of gunpowder. It is not the practice anywhere in the world for a maritime nation to allow a private firm to manage security because it is not safe for the country.
“We have the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and even the Navy to take charge of security of our waterways and not a private company because security could be compromised.
“A vessel could come in with illegal shipment, something that could jeopardise the security of a nation but because they are into business and want to make profit, they could compromise.
“We should not personalise national security. The Navy has always been the custodian of the maritime domain and not in combination with any other private firm. No country will put the security of its waterways in the hands of a private security company.
“The nation is not a personal property. When such information of private firms managing security goes outside the country, it appears we don’t even know what we are doing and yet we claim to be a maritime nation. So, we are calling on the government that this practice should be stopped completely,” he said.
Several maritime industry stakeholders have also  kicked against the OMSL contract, which they described as illegal and adding to the cost of doing business at the ports in Lagos.
Olugbode disclosed that the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, said that in the first half of 2020, OMSL generated $17 million (N8.5 billion) which was not remitted into the coffers of the Federal Government.
“We felt that it isn’t necessary for people to be paying money to secure their vessels on the water. It is the responsibility of the government through the Navy and NIMASA to secure at zero cost to the owners,” he said.

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Maritime

NPA Frowns Against Extortion Of Truck Drivers

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The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has threatened to sanction any staff that indulges in extortion of money from truck drivers at Apapa Port. 
The Acting Managing Director, NPA, Muhammed Bello-Koko, disclosed this shortly after a meeting with Governor Babatunde Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State.
Koko expressed optimism that the agency’s collaboration with the state government would bring an end to the perennial gridlock within and around the Apapa area.
The NPA boss emphasised the need to strengthen enforcement of traffic laws along the roads leading to Apapa and Tin Can ports, which are the two busiest ports in the country. 
He said NPA had been inundated with complaints of extortion from truckers, especially by security operatives, demanding money from drivers before accessing the ports.
 He described the practice as a major disincentive to the smooth implementation of the truck call-up system.
“One of the complaints of the truckers has to do with extortion by security operatives, the Army, the Police, the Nigerian Navy and even NPA security staff.
“This is one of the areas we require the intervention of government, because we have police officers deployed from the State Command who are allegedly involved in this. We at the NPA have resolved to take the right punitive measures against any of our staff involved in this.
“We have moved some of them out of port locations, and we will do further reviews. Whoever is found involved would be appropriately sanctioned”, he said. 
The NPA boss acknowledged that the Lagos State Government had been a close partner in terms of enforcement, but asked for more intervention to end the menace. 
“NPA has reached out to the Federal Ministry of Works, we have been speaking with the Director of Works in the State, and we have asked that they should provide some palliatives around Sunrise Bus-stop.
“We were made to understand that the contract for that section of the road has just been awarded, but because of the rains, work has been delayed”, he added.

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MWUN Tasks NIMASA, NIWA On Boat Drivers’ Training

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The Maritime and Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has called on the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to train and retrain boat drivers in the country to reduce incessant accidents on our waterways.
MWUN said training and retraining of boat drivers would enhance their capability and efficiency in the industry and save lives.
Chairman, MWUN, Rivers State Chapter, Comrade Jonah Jumbo disclosed this during a telephone interview with The Tide.
Comrade Jumbo also advised NIMASA and NIWA to sanction any boat driver involved in over-speeding, overloading and reckless driving to reduce boat mishaps.
The chairman who regretted that most boat drivers lacked the skills and technical know-how to navigate the waters, said their human errors often caused accidents.
Comrade Jumbo insisted that regular training for boat drivers would enrich their skills and enable them to read the tide while on transit.
He frowned at the increasing rate of boat mishaps on the nation’s waterways and urged all stakeholders to check the trend. 
The MWUN boss called on the Nigerian Navy and the Marine Police to arrest and prosecute any driver indulging in alcohol and overloading of passengers while on transit, adding that the act caused over seventy percent of water accident.
He appealed to drivers to desist from acts capable of causing accident, noting that many families have lost their loved ones through reckless driving and unholy acts caused by human errors on the waterways.

By: Chinedu Wosu

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Sokoto To Boost Water Transport With Motorised Boats

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The Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, says his administration will boost water transportation with motorised boats.
He also said his government would make life jackets available to all travellers and other water users to reduce boat mishap.
The governor stated this while commiserating with the people of Shagari Local Government Area that recently lost their loved ones in a boat mishap in the state. 
He regretted that the state had lost many lives to boat accidents and prayed God to grant the deceased eternal rest and their families the fortitude to bear their loss.
Also speaking, Chairman, Shagari Local Government Council, Aliyu Dantine Shagari, said eight of the victims were married women while five were children and elderly men.
He attributed the cause of the boat mishap to overloading.
“But there are other causes of boat mishap including strong wind. We are still investigating the matter to know what actually led to the accident”, he said. 
The chairman advised boat drivers to desist from overloading and over speeding, noting that the community lost over six people in a similar accident last year.

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