Nigerian shipowners seek more patrols at anchorages

  • Say Bonny remains worst, deadly

Amidst stakeholders’ acceptance of the Nigerian Ports Authority’s (NPA) recent declaration that the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) being operated by a private firm was unconventional, the Nigerian Shipowners’ Association (NISA) has called for increased patrolling of the nation’s anchorages.

President of NISA, Mr. Aminu Umar, who spoke to members of the Shipping Correspondents Association of Nigeria (SCAN) on a courtesy call, noted a drop in the frequency of attacks and sea robbery at present at the Lagos, Warri and Calabar anchorages compared to about five years ago, but stressed the need for more patrols.

He insisted that “compared to our other West African neighbours, the frequency of patrol is more in those countries than in Nigeria. I think there is improvement, but we want to see more of the patrols. In other countries you see it, you don’t just hear.”

According to him, the Bonny anchorage remains the worst, and apart from its inner anchorage inside the piloted district, nobody waits on the outer anchorage; “if you wait there you are on your own.”

“As has been for quite a long time, nobody today will drop anchorage there, it is not secure at all. You can only reach there essentially in daylight and must leave before nightfall. There are anchorages in Nigeria but you cannot go there at night. In Lagos, however, vessels can drop anchor at night.”

Backing the NPA’s position that the Lagos anchorage does not require private security, which receives extra payment from shipowners, Aminu disclosed that many ship owners, particularly Nigerian ship owners, objected to its approval when it was given because “it is the primary responsibility of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy to have secure anchorage in any country.

“There is nowhere in the world that the private sector runs secure anchorage. Presently, I don’t think there is any Nigerian shipowner using the secure anchorage but the international shipowners, who do not feel secure in the anchorage under the control of NPA, NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy.

“So, they prefer a special anchorage that makes them more secure when they see the patrols being done, because of the frequency of attacks outside the Nigerian waters. This is why the SAA has been operating all these years. For us, we want our anchorages secure, it is part of the money we pay always to NIMASA and NPA, and that is what is obtainable across the world.

“On arriving anywhere, even Lome, every anchorage is under their forte; it is like arriving in an office and the security tells you where to park. You are supposed to be under their security, and that is how it is done all over the world.”

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