Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has raised alarm that the nation’s maritime security arrangement is in crisis, calling on stakeholders to move against Ocean Marine Solution Limited (OMSL) from further defrauding the sector through its Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) platform.
Amaechi, who spoke on Thursday during this year’s World Maritime Day celebration, disclosed that OMLS collect as much as $2,000 from vessels at the Lagos Anchorage everyday.
The Minister, who berated maritime stakeholders for failing to challenge the development, insisted that the transport ministry has the responsibility to set up the secure anchorage area.
He said, “There is crisis in the maritime sector security arrangement. Today, we have a single individual partnering with the military collecting between $1,500 and $2, 000 daily from merchant ships. The Ministry of Transportation has the responsibility to set up the secure anchorage area. It is time to say enough is enough and you stakeholders have not been able to stop this illegal collection to the detriment of our shipping industry.”
Speaking on the theme of this year’s celebration, Sustainable Shipping for a Sustainable Planet: The Nigerian Dimension, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, called on industry stakeholders to focus on carrying out shipping business that is more environmentally friendly.
Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, stated that there is need for the country to optimise the potential of the maritime sector by utilising alternative transportation modes such as the waterways.
He pledged his administration’s continued support and partnership with relevant government agencies and institutions to ensure sustainable shipping business.
The governor also commended the Federal Government plans to begin transportation of containers from Lagos to Onitsha through barges and subsequently to other parts of the country, noting that the plan, when developed and implemented, would reduce the congestion and accidents on the road and also increase the maritime industry’s contribution to the nation’s GDP.
He said, “The theme of this year’s World Maritime Day is apt and timely when we need to pay rapt attention to making our shipping process more environmentally friendly. It is also coming at a time when we need to support the maritime industry to contribute its quota to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development by 2030.
“We need to optimise the potential of the maritime industry by utilising our waterways to transport goods and services from one destination to another locally. In respect of this, I must commend the Federal Government for the plan to begin transportation of containers from Lagos to Onitsha through barges and subsequently, to other parts of the country.”
On his part, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh, reiterated the agency’s commitment to rid the nation’s waterways of maritime crimes just as he called for more support and collaboration of other security agencies to tackle the menace of piracy.
“Our aim is to get the Nigerian waters free from any crimes and we are working hard to achieve that. All the security agencies are giving us the maximum cooperation because we cannot do it alone. We are also appealing to the stakeholders to give us a helping hand by reporting all the incidents so that together we can succeed in this.
“The issue of piracy and sea robbery on our sea is a global issue and what we are doing now as you are aware is that the Federal Government has signed the contract for provision of platforms also known as the blue project for us to arrest this situation.
“So far, we have received 85 percent of the assets which include 2 special mission vessels, 17 interceptor vessels, two special mission helicopters and C41s. We have been going round other agencies including the Nigerian Navy, Army, Police and others that will help in ensuring that we maintain security.
“We are going to adopt a carrot and stick approach in dealing with the situation. For those who think they can fight the government in terms of insecurity, then we have the stick which has to do with arresting them using our own capabilities that are the assets to deal with them and use the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act to try them,” he said.
The last Thursday of September every year is set aside by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to commemorate the World Maritime Day.