Two special mission vessels to tackle maritime crimes have arrived the country, along with 10 fast interceptor boats.
The vessels, codenamed DB Lagos and DB Abuja, arrived the country on Tuesday and were received by officials of the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The world class vessels are equipped with sophisticated intelligence gathering capability for timely detection and response to illegal activities in the maritime domain.
This was contained in a statement by NIMASA’s Executive Director of Operations, Rotimi Fashakin.
Fashakin insisted that criminals in the country’s waterways up to the Gulf of Guinea would soon meet their waterloo with the arrival and installation of the warships.
He said aside the two vessels, 10 fast interceptor boats have also arrived the country and seven more are expected later in the year.
He noted that each of the interceptor boats has an engine capacity of 900HP and can do up to 55 knots.
“Today marks a new dawn for a more secure and stable maritime environment in Nigeria. This milestone in asset delivery inches us closer to full operational take-off of the deep blue project, hence it marks a huge victory for the Nigerian maritime sector in the fight against maritime insecurity”, he said.
He added that each of the vessels would be commanded by a Navy captain with full complement of naval personnel.
Also speaking, the Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok Ete- Ibas said the officers that will man the vessels would be given adequate training.
“Piracy is an act inimical to the growth of the Nigerian maritime sector and we are prepared, more than ever before, to give it all it takes to end this nefarious act”, he said.
Maritime Industry Needs Clear-Cut Policy – Experts
As Nigerians mark the country’s 62nd Independence anniversary, experts say the maritime industry needs a clear-cut policy to impact positively on the economy.
The experts stated this recently in separate interviews in Lagos.
Acting President, National Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr Kayode Farinto, said previous policies were not consistent and had not impacted positively on the maritime industry.
“The industry has not really gained much and we have not moved forward even with the port concession that we had.
“The port concession has added value to the port, but the government needs to change its approach.
“The government has not fulfilled its responsibilities in the initial port concession,” he said.
He explained that in reviewing the port concession, stakeholders should be carried along.
Farinto said as a way forward, government should look into the generalisation of the cargo throughput that terminal operators pay.
“There should be a Ministry of Maritime Affairs, separate from the Ministry of Transportation, so that in line with Sustainable Development Goals +SDGs) of World Bank, number 14, they would be able to fully harness the potential of the maritime sector.
“Most of the access roads to the ports are very bad. By now we need to have a port development plan to cover 2030 or 2040, because the ports we have now have been overstretched,” he said.
Also speaking, a shipper, Mr Jonathan Nicole, noted that there was need for the country to be self-sufficient so that it would reduce importation.
“At 62 we are managing to survive in the maritime sector and the inflow of goods has not been good for importers at all.
“At the moment the cost of doing business is high because of exchange rate instability.
“When naira is not stable, one cannot even plan. So, government should put policies in place to help importers,” he said.
Nicole, who is also a member of Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS), said importers incurred losses due to unfavourable policies at the port saying that if it continued like this for the next five years, the maritime sector would collapse.
“In the maritime sector, the only thing we are expecting is for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement to work, and the issue of security should be looked into to ensure trade moves smoothly.
“Government should look at tariffs at port and the operations of Customs to ensure seamless operations at the port,” he said.
FG Tasks Terminal Operators On Maintenance
Federal Government has said it would hold port terminal operators responsible for the maintenance of facilities across the ports.
The government stated this during the signing of a new concession agreement between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the terminal operators.
The agreement would also compel operators to invest more in relevant equipment.
Managing Director, NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, disclosed this while giving an insight into the revised concession agreement with the five terminal operators whose concession agreements have expired and are desirous of renewal.
Emphasizing that the new agreement will factor in the port modernisation agenda of the Federal Government, Koko noted that the processes of renewal in the agreement of the five terminal operators that expired since 2021 would assuredly get a speedy process and conclusion.
He noted further that the 2006 agreement is outdated and the Federal Government will leverage on the current renewal processes to factor in the new realities of the modern port development agenda that will make the lessees more responsible for the maintenance of Quays, Fenders and allied matters such as port illumination.
“NPA is concluding discussions on the terms of the agreement and once that is sorted, the report will be sent to the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT), and the Federal Ministry of Justice (FMOJ).
“The agreements were signed in 2006, and, while some have expired, some are still running.
“But, the expired ones are being renewed and what we are looking at is what will be in the best interest of the country.
“What was agreed in 2006 is no more tenable. The demands of the country and of the NPA are different from what they were in 2006.
“The Federal Government, through the NPA, is resolved to hold Terminal Operators more accountable under the new agreement, on maintenance as well as on deployment of modern equipment in sufficient quantity.
“Two of the expired leases have agreed to invest in the development of the Tin Can Island Port.
“The need to discuss with the other terminal operators whose leases have not expired became important since development will entail the whole berth.
“It is these fine details that are being worked on, but I believe within the month, they will be finalized and sent to Federal Ministry of Transport (FMOT), Federal Ministry of Justice (FMOJ), BPE, and ICRC accordingly”.
The MD said, the NPA management under his leadership will continue to uphold global best practices and ensure the best deal is secured for Nigeria.
He said the new agreement will ensure that the operators are held accountable for their commitment to invest in port infrastructure to ensure efficiency.
On the whole, the renewal of these leases has afforded NPA the opportunity to take a closer look at the Port Modernization project of the government, and preliminary agreements.
Together the renewal documents will be communicated to the Federal Ministry Of Transportation in a few day’s’ time, he explained.
By: Chinedu Wosu
Human Errors, Wrecks Responsible For Boat Mishaps – NIWA
Following the incessant boat mishaps in the nation’s waterways, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has blamed human errors and abandoned wrecks as causes in the waterways
To check this trend, the Authority said it has started training boat Skippers to curb the menace
NIWA said the theory of training was aimed at addressing the issue of human error that leads to boat mishaps on the waterways.
The Manager, NIWA, Lagos Area, Sarat Braimah, who stated this to newsmen during an interview in Lagos, said, “We have identified human errors and wrecks as the two major reasons we keep having boat mishaps in Lagos. That was why we started the training of boat skippers”.
On removal of wrecks from the rivers, Sarat said, “we decided to commence the removal in three locations along the Lagos waterways.
“We are starting today with Ijora. By next week, we will move to Owode and Ibeshe axis to remove wrecks so that waterways users will move freely on the waterways in Lagos.
“We have done survey analysis of what the wrecks look like and the reports have long been submitted. So, the wreck removal is commencing today and will last for the next three months.
“From the survey analysis report, we have abandoned dredgers and old ferries underneath the water that are constituting wrecks for waterways users.
“One of the wrecks underneath the water is a 100-passenger capacity ferry. So, you can see that survey analysis has already revealed to us what we are expected to remove, and the removal process will commence today”.
She said the Kirikiri to Badagry water axis was left out of the exercise because the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) was handling that section.
“We were supposed to start from the Badagry area but as you all know, NIMASA has been given the approval to remove wrecks from Kirikiri to Badagry.
That is why we are focusing on other areas of the Lagos Inland waterways.
“The Badagry area is close to the routes where ocean-going vessels pass through when coming to our ports, that was why it was agreed that NIMASA should handle that area,” she said.
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