NPA moves against terror threats, orders 3 patrol vessels
• FEC Approves 25-yr Ports Master plan
While two of the vessels of similar class are being constructed in South Africa, the other bigger vessel will be coming from France.
The three new patrol vessels are expected to give impetus to the recent approval granted by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the NPA’s Ports 25-years Master plan, which is expected to usher in a new era of modernisation and expansion of the nation’s seaports.
General Manager, Public Affairs, NPA, Capt. Iheanacho Ebubeogu, told journalists in Lagos, last Thursday that the purchase of the three vessels would effectively complement NPA’s collaboration with the Nigerian Navy (NN) in keeping the ports safe.
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY recalls that the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had in 2009 claimed responsibility for an armed attack at the Atlas Cove Jetty, an oil terminal owned by the NPA.
That attack left a trail of fuel scarcity in the country.
Lately, in the wake of wake of South Africa’s conviction of MEND Leader Henry Okah, the militant group has threatene to resume attacks on oil terminals in Nigeria.
Ebubeogu, who assured that the NPA would take all necessary steps to forestall a repeat of the Atlas Cove Jetty incident, said that NPA would not give in to any terrorist threat, hence the proactive measures were being put in place.
“Let me tell you that, beyond the purchase of the boats, several other potent measures are being put in place, which may not be made public because of the security nature, but we are not sleeping,” he said.
The NPA image maker also clarified the current low cargo volume being experienced at the ports, saying the situation was a direct outcome of global recession.
“You know that Nigeria is predominantly a destination port, different from ports of origin. The only port of origin in the country is that of Bonny, and so what happens is that when you have such recession, it throws up a spiraling effect on countries which operates destination ports.
“Don’t forget that the banks are majorly responsible for raising monies to finance imports, and when they (banks) are in distress owing to such global recession, the import/export sector will be adversely affected. The good thing is that the recession is gradually being overcome and our traffic volume will also bounce back,” Ebubeogu said.
On the purported concession of the marine services, he said that it was not true that the specialised function was being given out under whatever guise.
Ebubeogu said: “The NPA has only concession its cargo operations, not ‘sold’ the ports as being bandied by some people ignorantly.
“When the Bureau of Public Concession wrote to us to say that in furtherance of the ports concession, we should take certain steps, we wrote to them and explained our position, and even requested for a meeting to put things straight. Up till date, we are yet to hear from them.”
He explained that the NPA was embarking on a deliberate venture of creating more public awareness of what the organisation is all about, and its statutory function, “so that people can understand the working of the ports system in a concession era.”
In a related development, undoubtedly, a strong desire to adequately secure Nigerian ports – the famed “gateway to the nation’s economy” – in the face of prevailing dire security situation in Nigeria, inspired penultimate Thursday’s parley between the NPA Security Department and the Ports Authority Police Command (PAPC) at Rockview Hotel, Apapa, Lagos.
The Executive Director, Marine and Operations, NPA, Engr. David Omonibeke, who presided over the meeting as Chairman, said that the Authority appreciates the crucial roles of the PAPC, and will continue to cultivate, maintain and sustain a mutual working relationship with the command.
Noting that without security, lives and property are at great risk, Omonibeke assured the PAPC that the NPA will continuously support the command by providing necessary logistics to enhance its performance.
Omonibeke, who commended the new Commissioner of Police, PAPC, Mrs Sherifat Disu Olakoju, for swinging into action since assuming office, said that a remarkable change has been noticed since then.
In his opening remarks, the General Manager, Security, NPA, Col. Jamil Tahir (rtd), explained that NPA Management found it expeditious to convene the meeting in order to map out strategies to confront the present security challenges facing the country.
Tahir asserted that, while the nation’s seaports had not witnessed incidents of terrorists attack, owing, according to him, the vigilance of security agencies, there is need for synergy among security agencies in order to prevent any security breaches.
Also speaking, the Ports Police Commissioner said that she toured the Lagos ports shortly after her assumption of duty and discovered that a lot more needs to be done to improve security at these facilities.
She solicited the NPA’s additional support in the areas of marine training, provision of patrol vehicles, accommodation, communication gadgets, sniffer dogs etc.
Also at the meeting from the NPA were the General Manager, Western Ports, Ms. Adenike Sonaike; General Manager, Eastern Ports, Engr. Sunny Nwobi; Assistant General Manager, Security, Western Ports, Mr. Sam Asamage; and heads of security from the various ports.
Apart fom the Commissioner, the PAPC team comprised the Deputy Commissioner of Police, two Assistant Commissioners of Police and all the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) from the various ports.
Industry analysts aver that this effort at synergy between the NPA Security Department and the PAPC may yet put lie to the assertion by the Consul-General of the United States (US) Embassy, Mr. Jeffrey Hawkins, at the just-concluded Nigeria Maritime Expo (NIMAREX) 2013, that there is no effective collaboration mechanism for the various maritime actors in Nigeria on both a strategic and tactical level.
Hawkins, who harped on what was to him was the poor state of security of Nigeria’s maritime domain, had lamented that “when players on the same team don’t talk with each other, nothing productive can be accomplished.”
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