From left: Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Chudi Offodile, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, Executive Director, Operations Shehu Ahmed;  and Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services Engr. Victor Ochei during the official first visit NPA’s MD to NIMASA headquarters, in Lagos Tuesday  

The Federal Government has assured shippers and owners of vessels that call at the nation’s seaport facilities of adequate protection for their cargo and the vessels under the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, also called the Deep Blue Project. The government insists that the Deep Blue Project remains the central security structure for all anchorage areas in the nation’s maritime domain, which is in line with efforts to reduce the cost of shipping of goods into the country.

Recall that Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi had cancelled the controversial Secure Anchorage Area SAA project contracted to Ocean Marine Services Limited OMSL by the Nigerian Navy, which was severally described as a scam by stakeholders.

Under the contract, which OMSL claimed it invested over $400million, the company would provide security within the Lagos Pilotage District, covering Lagos the Ports Complex and Tin Can Island Ports Complex for all vessels that call at the nation’s seaports to allegedly avoid being attacked while at anchorage for which they pay some stipulated fees.

Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, disclosed this today in Lagos after a meeting with the Executive Management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA led by the Director General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, at the agency’s headquarters in Lagos.

The NPA MD also disclosed that both agencies have harmonised modalities for effective removal of all wrecks and derelicts that may hinder safe and smooth navigations on the Nigerian waters. According to her, NIMASA and NPA are sister agencies and should be seen to be collaborating more for the growth of the maritime industry and the nation’s economy generally.

“Arrangements are being concluded to berth NIMASA’s Floating Dockyard permanently in order for it to commence operations in July. We had a range of discussions bordering on the Secure Anchorage Area which our supervising Ministry desires the Deep Blue Project should provide security for all over the country. Aside saving the country a lot of money, it will ensure that the security of Nigerian’s maritime domain is given a focal attention”, the MD said.

It was further gathered that both agencies have also agreed to integrate the NPA’s C3i security platform with that the C4i owned by NIMASA in order to interchange information that would assist the Nigerian Navy’s response to maritime security issues.

Under the new arrangement, both platforms would be connected to the Navy’s Falcon Eye to facilitate interconnectivity, which would enable the respond promptly to all security threats on her waters.

Meanwhile, DG NIMASA, who corroborated these positions on security and the Floating Dock, reiterated the need to harmonise most of the working models among all maritime agencies to avoid duplication of duties which also leads to higher more cost.

Jamoh said the SAA, which had been a subject of debate among stakeholders would now be covered under the multi- spectrum security architecture called the Deep Blue Project.

“There is absolutely no need for us to have private security in our maritime space. You are aware that this increases the cost of Shipping in our country. By the time the Deep Blue Project becomes fully operational, the cost of shipping would drastically reduce.

“Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Floating Dockyard should be operational by the end of July. This facility will employ hundreds of Nigerians directly and also earn huge amount in revenue for the country.

“We are finalising arrangements with the NPA to get a permanent berth for the Floating Dockyard and by the end of July this facility should be operational. The interesting thing is that aside earning a huge amount of revenue, it also has the capacity to employ over 300 Nigerian youths directly”.

Stakeholders believe that the meeting of the heads of the two major agencies in the maritime industry provides a major platform for synergy that would further boost security in the nation’s maritime domain.