There are strong indications that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Deep Blue Project, which aims to tackle insecurity on the nation’s waters, may not commence operation anytime soon as the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi, Thursday said aircrafts needed for the project are now expected to arrive the country by March 2021.
This is the fourth time the government would be shifting its position on the takeoff date of the deep blue project, which was expected to have kicked off in 2019.
As with his several failed promises to deliver the rail lines and also disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) within certain timelines, Amaechi is unable to achieve his own deadline for takeoff of the so-called Deep Blue Project.
Speaking during an inspection of some of the Deep Blue Project equipment in Lagos, Amaechi said while 85 percent of the assets have been delivered, others are still expected.
“Only the helicopters are being awaited. Every other thing has arrived and we hope to receive the helicopters by first quarter of next year. I don’t know when the assets will be deployed because that is a security question. Allow the security men to meet with us the policy makers and then we will conclude,” he said.
Amaechi, who was accompanied on the tour by the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd), Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok Ete Ibas and the Director General of NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh, decried the embarrassment the incessant attacks on ships by pirates has caused Nigeria but reiterated the government’s determination to rid the nation’s waters of criminal activities.
He said, “No matter how embarrassing the situation is, the fact that the Federal Government is addressing it is most important. Don’t forget they tried it under Obasanjo, the PICOMMS project, it never worked. They tried it under former President Goodluck Jonathan, it never worked but here you have gentlemen who are determined to make it work and now it worked so just be patient and give us some more time.
“We have said that we expect all the equipment to arrive by March next year and we expect that training should be able to end before March so allow the government to take a decision,” he said.
In his remarks, the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd), said the ongoing efforts to deploy all assets needed for the project shows the level of preparedness of the government to tackle insecurity on the nation’s waters.
He said, “We have always been prepared but our coming here today will further increase the preparedness of the Nigerian Navy and the security of our waters. We have commenced training of the naval personnel that will man the equipment and we hope to complete their training by next year.
“The visit is just to see the level of compliance of our platforms in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Warri. We are satisfied with what we have on ground, there is a lot of improvement but we hope very soon, we will complete the project,” he said.
Director General of NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh restated the agency’s commitment to ensuring the success of the Deep Blue Project with the collaboration of other government agencies.
He disclosed that 67 staff of the agency have so far been trained for the project.