NIMASA: Hope Brightens For Ship Owners Accessing CVFF Brightens

  • 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.

Bashir Jamoh: DG, NIMASA

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.

Hajia Hadiza Usman: MD, NPA

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’.    

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