World Maritime Day : FG bemoans criminal activities at sea

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The Federal Government on Tuesday lamented that in spite of the numerous achievements in the maritime industry, the industry in Nigeria and globally has come under siege of criminal elements who still engage in acts of piracy, sea robbery, arms proliferation, crude oil theft, terrorism, migration, illegal and unregulated fishing in the Gulf of Guinea and within Nigeria’s territorial waters.

Speaking during the 2018 World Maritime Day celebration in Lagos, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, stated that the gains recorded via dredging, amnesty and port concession exercises in Nigeria nosedived due to this unfortunate scenario, thus compelling some foreign shipping companies to request for Government’s approval to enter Nigeria’s territorial waters with armed security personnel onboard.

The SGF who was represented by the Minister of State for Works, Power and Housing, Mustapha Baba Shehuri explained that:
“Government’s policy to concession port facilities and services to private interests has had a profound effect on job creation and opportunities in the maritime industry from warehousing, cargo handling delivery and documentation among others.

“It was reported that within six years of the port concession, private operators had employed over 48,000 Nigerians against a little over 14,000 before the policy shift. These are, of course, notable achievements which we need to consolidate further.

“Thankfully, the government is not taking the issue of safety and security in the Maritime sector lightly. Like the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg, the maritime industry must be protected to attract foreign investors and also preserve Nigeria‘s territorial integrity. Permit me to commend the Fedora! Ministry of Transportation for confronting the matter with the seriousness it deserves.

“I am aware that a contract has been awarded for the Integrated National Security and Water Protection Infrastructure in Nigeria under the Deep Blue Project. This project entails the provision of security infrastructure and the training of personnel for the protection of Nigeria’s maritime domain. it is envisaged that this project will comprehensively address the emerging cases of insecurity in the maritime industry and restore investors confidence.”

In his own presentation, the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi stated that concerted efforts were being made to strengthen the institutional capabilities of agencies responsible for providing maritime security in Nigeria’s maritime domain and around the Gulf of Guinea region.

“Statistics show a total freight cost estimate of between $5 billion and $6 billion annually, while the maritime component of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry is worth an estimated $8 billion alongside seaborne transportation, oceanic extraction resource exploitation and export processing zones.

“It is worthy to note that for effective contribution of shipping activities to the development of Nigeria’s economy, there is urgent need to curb and combat these illegal maritime activities in our waters as these crimes continue to constitute impediments to economic development. “As long as these crimes continue to pose danger to the Gulf of Guinea and our maritime domain, the benefits of the theme of this year’s World Maritime Day celebration will continue to be elusive.

“The Federal Executive Council (FEC) recently approved the procurement of new security architecture for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), which involves the acquisition of new platforms and other logistics required to enable the agency to perform its statutory functions of securing the Nigerian waters in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy.

“The importance of ensuring a safe maritime domain cannot be overemphasized. A safe, secure and efficient shipping industry will surely revitalize and diversify the economy of Nigeria away from crude oil exploration to a maritime hub. Therefore, the promotion of sustainable shipping and sustainable maritime development as expressed in the theme of this year’s celebration will stimulate the development of new technologies and innovation, agile maritime security platforms and the development of the maritime infrastructure,” Amaechi said.