FG failed on promise to tackle maritime crime – Stakeholders

FG failed on promise to tackle maritime crime – Stakeholders

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The Federal Government has come under criticisms for allegedly reneging on its promise to float some high-tech machinery, worth N56.9 billion, meant to combat maritime crime in the nation’s troubled waters.
The Chief Executive Officer, A+ Marine, Mr. Charles Okafor, explained that the facilities were expected to have arrived Nigeria in August, but three months after, the project now appears elusive.
“The fund is meant to acquire three helicopters, three aircrafts, three big battle-ready ships, 12 vessels, and 20 amphibious cars to combat the menace of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Government, through the Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, promised the vessels would be operating by August 2017 but nothing has changed. Change is not just talked about but should be felt,” he said.
Responding, however, the spokesperson for the Nigerian Navy, Chris Ezekobe, disclosed that he was not aware of the plan, adding that the Navy was really in need of more vessels, but coping with the existing ones.
“Although, I am not aware of that promise to acquire those machineries, but in all our presentations to the presidency, we have been asking for additional vessels and our vessels of choice are what we called ‘offshore patrol vessels’.
“We have two existing ones that were bought from China. Those are: NNS Unity, and NNS Centenary. Within the constraints on our resources, we have been making our pitch for additional platforms, which will help us address some of these issues,” he
said.
Months after the unveiling of the plan, Nigeria’s marine territory has continued to report many attacks and kidnappings. A recent incident is the report of the kidnap of six crew members, including the captain, from a Liberian-flagged containership, ‘Demeter’, offshore Bonny.
However, a new report by the International Chamber of Commerce and the International Maritime Bureau, said, “Nigeria remains risky, as there were 20 reports received against all vessel types for Nigeria, 16 of which occurred off the coast of Brass, Bonny, and Bayelsa.
The Director, IMB, Pottengal Mukundan, said, “In general, all waters in and off Nigeria remain risky, despite intervention in some cases by the Nigerian Navy. We advise vessels to be vigilant. The number of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea could be even higher than our figures, as many incidents continue to be unreported.”
The Commandant, Nigerian Defence College, Abuja, Rear Admiral Adeniyi Oshinowo, gave a rough estimate of the institution’s patrol requirements. “They include at least 18 low/medium endurance Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPVs) (<50), and nine helicopters carrying long endurance OPVs (>70), and three Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), which are needed to provide adequate protection of Nigeria’s coastal and deep offshore waterways.
“Although the NN strive to maintain such size of fleet, it has been expensive sustaining same at optimum operational level, due to limited resources,” he added.

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