- 27 Arrested Suspected pirates Face Trial This Week
- Deep Blue Project To Secure Anchorage Areas
By Stephen Ubanna
Indigenous ship owners heave a sigh of relief as Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, give them hope of accessing the multi-million dollar Cabotage vessel Financing Fund, CVFF soon.
Aware that the indigenous ship owners needed to access the $124 million or N44 billion.00, Fund, the NIMASA, Director General was said to have cashed in on the speech of Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state and now minister of Transportation at the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, stakeholders’ Appreciation Night, on December 31, 1919, that the ministry would start meetings with the ship owners in January 2020, ‘ to finanlise arrangement for the disbursement of the CVFF, ‘to send a proposal to him on the issue of providing incentives for industry stakeholders in the nation’s maritime sector’. The minister was said to have in turn, sent a similar proposal to President Muhammadu Buhari to give approval for the disbursement of the CVFF. He got it.
Jamoh may have gladdened the heart of the officials of the indigenous shipping Companies when he revealed that ‘the ministry of Transportation are putting finishing touches to arrangement for the disbursement of the Fund’. The NIMASA Director General was said to have opened up on the CVFF, when he rolled the drum last week to celebrate his 100 days in office.
As a prelude for the disbursement of the Fund, the minister had said that the ministry would meet withsss the indigenous ship owners in January, 2020, to commence the disbursement process of the Fund. Note that the CVFF, is a special intervention Fund that was said to have been created along side with the country’s Coastal and Inland shipping Act, 2003, by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
While , indigenous and Foreign shipping Lines operating in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, over the years , had been scared of the activities of pirates and the sea criminals , Jamoh appears to have sent a signal to them that the game is over, as the mMaritime Regulatory Agency, will this week commence the prosecution of suspected pirates arrested by the Nigerian Navy. The Pirates and the seea criminals were said to have been arrested under the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences, SPOMO, Act. Jamoh had said that the Naval personnel on Patrol had arrested the pirates recently with the intelligence gathering and support from the agency.
There is no gain saying the fact that the trial of the arrested suspected Pirates will be the first under the anti-piracy law which was signed into law by the President last June. Maritime watchers believe that the trial of the suspected Pirates under the anti-piracy law, will make the country in the West and Central African Sub-region, to have a standalone anti-piracy Legislation.
The Collaboration between the agency and the Navy, under the close watch of Ibok Ekwe-Ibas, a Vice Admin, may have informed why an elated NIMASA Direcctor General, had confirmed to the hearing of industry stakeholders of its resolve ‘ to root out piracy and armed robbery in the country waters’. This is evident going by the mounting of anti-piracy spirited Campaign in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guninea which, many believe is yielding result on a daily basis. Reports had it that the Collaborative effort of the agency and the Navy had led to the arrest of suspected 27 Pirates in the last two months.
Security experts aveers that the case of the pirates will be made worse with the execution of the $195 million security contract awarded to the Israeli Company, HLSI Security Systems and Technologies Limited, to combat piracy and other illegal activities in Nigerian waters. Insiders told The Value News that it is on this multi-million dollar contract that the Buhari Administration hinges its efforts of sanitizing the country’s maritime domain.
It is also on the contract that Amaechi, the minister of Transportation, pet project, Deep Blue Project, described as the country’s gigantic maritime security package also depends. The Israeli security Company was said to have supplied two special mission vessels, 14 out of the 17 fast invention vessels, and 14, out of the 17 armoured vehicles to tackle insecurity in Nigerian waters.
There are indications that the Israeli security outfit had concluded arrangement with the manufacturers of the security equipment in order to take delivery of the remaining equipment for supply to NIMASA. The remaining two special mission aircraft and three special mission helicopters are expected to be delivered to the Maritime Regulatory agency between August 2020 and January 2021. NIMASA officials had confirmed that 85 percent of work on the project had been achieved.
The Magazine learnt that work on the multi-million dollar, Project had been hastened up in the last three months under the current Jamoh led NIMASA Management. This may have been made possible by the matching order given to Asiata .O. Asta, led NIMASA Board of Directors to ensure the immediate completion of the maritime security project, also known as the Integrated National Security on Nigeria’s territorial waters up to the Gulf of Guinea.
He may have told the Board members not to wory about the about the payment of the Israeli security firm payment but to hasten the Company to do their work . He had said that ‘60% of the project costs had been paid by the government to the Company.
The minister was said to have made it clear to the NIMASA Board members that the success of the agency is to a ‘great extent is dependent on the completion of the project’. This may have informed informed why Asita, the NIMASA , Board of Directors, Chairman, has thrown his weight on the Jamoh led Management to ensure the Completion of the Project as directed by the minister.
Even when the Deep sea Blue project has not been completed by the HlSI Security Systems and Technologies Limited, Jamoh, on assumption of office , last March, as the Director General of NIMASA, had’ launched ‘a three – point agenda , focused on maritime ssafety, Security and shipping development’. He noted that the pirates and sea criminals who had been operating in the Nigerian waters over the years, may have been succeeding with the support of their international allies. ‘We have set out to tackle them through intelligence gathering and Collaboration with relevant stakeholders’’, he has said.
The recent arrest of some suspected Pirates in Nigerian waters may have sent a signal to the International Community that the government ‘ is no longer handling illegalities in the Nigerian waters with the kids glove’.
The Navy with the Collaboration of the agency were said to have arrested 27 suspected Pirates, a feat that had never been achieved under any former NIMASA Director General. The personal message sent to Jamoh, the NIMASA, boss to congratulate him over his anti-piracy drive in Nigeria waters which are yielding results by Kitack Lim, Secretary General, International Maritime Organisation, IMO, speaks volume.
The NIMASA , helmsman, may have put smiles on the faces of Nigerian Seafarers, when he said the Nigerian Seafarers Development Progragramme, NSDP, are being designed ‘to make it more effective’. Nigerian trained Seafarers may be lucky to have their sea training experience without hassles as the agency plans to put the N50 billion floating dock which had been idling away at the Nigerian Navy Naval dockyard , Victoria , Island, Lagos.
Until his removal from office last March, by the President, Dakuku Peterside, had described the floating dock as a drain pipe. He had said that the agency spends on a monthly basis about $30,000 including demurrage to keep the dock humming. The dock , which was maintained by the Naval Dockyard Holdings Limited, a subsidiary of the Nigeria Navy, was not making anything in return.
T Already, the agency was said to have begun negotiations with the Nigerian Ports Authority,NPA, to berth the dock at the Authority Continental dockyard, Apapa. The dock, according to experts could yield a monthlyN1 billion to the agency, once it begins to repair vessels, an official said.
There are indications that some oil and gas Companies have shown interest to patronise the floating dock in the repair of their vessels. Unconfirmed report said 350 staff will be engaged to work in the Electrical and Mechanical Compartments of the dock to keep it busy , all year round.
‘It takes a man with vision to turn the floating dock which had been idle over the last two years, into a money spinning dock’, a Naval officer remarked.
In a related development, the government was said to have concluded arrangement that could make the Deep Blue Project , the central security storage structure for all anchorage areas in the country’s maritime domain.
Given an insider information about the decision , Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, at a meeting with her counterpart in NIMASA, Jamoh, disclosed that that the decision was taken ostensibly ‘to reduce the cost of shipping imported goods into the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tin can Island and other ports in the country.
She disclosed that the two agencies had ‘agreed to work out modalities for effective removal of all the wrecks and derelicts that are believed could hinder navigations in Nigerian waters’. The NPA, Managing Director, who could not hide her feelings averred that the two ministry of Transportation agencies, should be seen to be collaborating more for the growth and development of the nation’s maritime industry and the country in general’.
What appears to be a rumour over the last couple of months that NIMASA, has began talks with the Authority to berth the multi-million naira floating dockyard currently idling away at the Naval dockyard, Victoria Island, permanently at the agency Continental shipyard , Apapa, in order to resume operation, in July, 2020, was said to have been confirmed by Hajia Usman. Note that NIMASA has projected a monthly revenue generation of N1 billion once it starts operation in July, 2020.
The duo, Hajia Usman and Jomoh, were said to have also discussed other issues bordering on the secure anchorage area at the meeting ostensibly to provide security for all anchorage areas in the country. The NPA helmsman pointed out that apart from ‘saving the country a lot of money from shipment of goods, it will ensure that the security of the country maritime domain is given a focal attention’.
The good news was that the two foremost maritime agencies have also agreed ‘to interlink the C3i of NPA and C4i of NIMASA to interchange information that would assist the Nigerian Navy’s response to security in Nigerian waters’.
Note that NPA, have the C3i Command, Control and Intelligence center and NIMASA, c4i while the Navy has the Falcon eye.‘We need to interlink these facilities and we believe that this would assist the country in response to maritime security threats’, she has said.
On his part, Jamoh, the NIMASA, boss, noted that there was need ‘to harmonise most of the working models amongst all the agencies in the ministry of Transportation to avoid duplication of duties that leads to additional costs of doing business at Nigerian ports’.
Jamoh, averred that the secure anchorage area which had been a subject of debate over the years amongst stakeholders would now be covered under the multi- spectrum security architecture, popular, Deep Blue Project.
He maintained that there was ‘absolutely no basis for the government to have engaged a private security in the country maritime space, in the first instance, noting that ‘it increases the cost of shipping goods into the country. By the time the Deep Blue Project becomes fully operational, he said, ‘the cost of shipping goods into the country would drastically reduce’.