Rotimi Amaechi performed his last assignment as Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation in Lagos on Tuesday with a maritime stakeholders parley.
The controversial former Minister apologized to the maritime industry stakeholders for failing to deliver on his promises especially with regards to curtailing insecurity on the nation’s waterways and floating a national carrier.
Amaechi however assured of the Federal Government’s determination to tackle criminality on the nation’s waterways, with the recent acquisition of two helicopters and other security equipment.
He said the security equipment, which would be provided by HLSI, an Isreali firm contracted by the Federal Government, will be deployed between June and the first quarter of 2020.
He said, “I am here to tell you how far we have gone with the $195 million maritime security contract that the President and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved for the nation’s maritime security.
“You are aware that the situation is very bad now in the maritime sector in terms of security and the President is aware of it, but what we showed to the stakeholders is that the equipment we need to combat this threat in the maritime sector is not off-the-shelf equipment.
“We are buying two helicopters, two planes, three vessels that you can almost call like a war vessel but it is not, and 19 interceptors, which is fast speed boats that have the capacity to go to the Delta.
“Part of the problem we have is that most of the vessels we have can’t go through the creeks because of how shallow the water is. What we are buying can go through the creeks.
“We have shown the stakeholders that deployment will start in June this year, the impact of that deployment we cannot explain because not all the equipment are in place but we will start in June to see how we can stop these criminals from converting our waters into a theatre of war.
“We think that between June and first quarter of 2020, we would have completed deployment, then you can hold us responsible for any crime that takes place in the water. At that point, we would have finished training of our personnel led by the Nigerian Navy because the equipment will be manned by the navy. The Army, Police, Air force, State Security Service (SSS) and NIMASA (Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency) are also involved in the effort to rid our waters of criminals.
“One more thing I have to say is to apologise to the stakeholders and assure them of better maritime security. Our plan to float a national carrier is also a total failure on my side because it can’t be all success all the way.”
Speaking on his achievements as the Minister of Transportation, Ameachi said while it is difficult to enumerate, he is proud of the extent he has taken the National Single Window (NSW) project.
“The first target I wanted to achieve was the National Single Window because it is believed that with Single Window, you can clear your goods in 24 or 48 hours. Although there were challenges but today, we can proudly say that it has been approved by Federal Executive Council. We have been able to aggregate all the interest including Customs, NPA, Immigration and the next thing now is implementation,” he said.