The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has revealed that cabals and vested interest are currently frustrating the recently approved $198m maritime security contract.
Speaking at a Maritime Stakeholders Interactive Forum held in Warri, Delta State on Thursday, Amaechi vowed to publicly mention names of the saboteurs.
According to Rotimi Amaechi, “Reason, why vessels will not come to the Eastern ports, is because there is war insurance due to insecurity in the ports here.
“The war insurance means if the goods cost N10,000 in Lagos, it will cost N20,000 here because there is an extra cost on it due to Insecurity issues. Even as a minister, I can’t enter a boat ride from Warri to Port Harcourt due to insecurity issues, but I can move around Lagos at any time of the day.
“I once asked a former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, why people from Anambra don’t import from Port Harcourt port, and he said it cost less to import from Lagos and move to Onitsha even with the price they pay on the road. It is cheaper to import from Lagos to Aba, yet Aba to Port Harcourt is a 30-minute drive.
“For shipowners, you need to do a petition to Mr President. The President approved a contract of $195m for maritime security, but there are people in the system sabotaging the contract because it will restore security in the water. I won’t say who they are until it gets out of control. We are still battling for the contract to take place, but if it gets out of place, we will name them publicly, including the security people involved.
“There are people who make billions of Dollars from the insecurity on the water, so they don’t want security on the water because if we secure the water, all their rubbish will go.
“There are businesses which provide the vessel for oil companies in the name of providing security. The moment we secure the water, they are out of jobs?”
In his own presentation, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, said that talks between the agency and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) are in advanced stage over provision of 100 brand new cabotage vessels for indigenous operators in the oil and gas sector.
In the words of Dr Dakuku Peterside, “the maritime sector plays a very important role in the growth of the Nigerian economy. It may occur to you that without the maritime sector today in Nigeria, we cannot fund the budget of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“In the maritime industry, all agencies are equally important, but it is only when we work in a synergy that we can accomplish great results.
“For us at NIMASA, we have our eyes on the goal, and that is why that, even the modest achievements we have achieved over time as being down to collaborations with our different stakeholders. It is a pointer to this that we sent 298 cadets to do sea-time training in Egypt and the United Kingdom.
“Nigeria has also moved up the ladder on the Ease of Doing Business ratings.
“It is also a fact that because of the new cabotage compliance strategy, today and in the past six months, we have over 200 seafarers onboard different cabotage vessels.
“What of our collaboration with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), which is at its advanced stage, and will lead to the engagement of over 100 brand new cabotage vessels in the oil and gas industry.
“On the 27th day of February, we will be presenting the Nigerian maritime outlook for 2018/2019. All of this and much more couldn’t have been possible without the support and collaboration of different stakeholders.
We are open for partnership and collaboration, and will continue to work with stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime sector.”
Also speaking at the maritime stakeholders’ event which had as its theme, “Implementation of Executive Order 1”, the Chairman of the House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Hon. Mohammed Bago, revealed that the House of Representative has passed the Bill establishing the Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State.
“A few months ago, my Committee and I went into the creeks of the Niger Delta, not far away from here, and we visited the site of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko. There, we promised them that we will pass the Bill establishing the university.
“I am proud to announce to you, that sometime in January this year, the House of Representatives has passed the Bill establishing the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State. I want NIMASA to do the needful and get the maritime university up and running,” Bago explained.