Security equipment deployment begins next month, says Amaechi
Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi (middle), Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside (left), and President, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Dr. McGeorge Onyung, at the interactive session on maritime security and allied issues in Lagos…Tuesday
By Chidubem Anthony
Nigeria’s maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) will soon be rid of piracy and other criminal activities as the Federal Government is set to begin from June to 2020 Q1 the deployment of specialised security tools and manpower for a safe and secure waters.
Addressing an interactive session with maritime stakeholders in Lagos Tuesday, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, said the $195 million three-year security contract with the Israeli firm, HLSI Security Systems and Technologies, was primarily to halt the insecurity in the Nigerian waters and end revenue leakages arising there from.
Initially awarded in 2017, cancelled in January 2018 over concerns for internal security but restored in August, the contract includes personnel training, acquisition and deployment of helicopters, airplanes, three big battle-ready ships, 12 vessels and 20 amphibious cars to the nation’s waters to stem the security in the GoG.
According to Amaechi, “criminals must be chased out of Nigerian territorial waters to make it safe and attractive for more foreign investments. The Federal Government is committed to this project hence the need to collaborate with HLSI Systems in this way.
“All vessels plying Nigerian territorial waters would be identified and monitored from point to point throughout the period of their stay in Nigeria to ascertain all activities conducted.”
Noting that the security situation in the maritime sector has become very bad, and that the President (Muhammadu Buhari) was aware of it, he explained that the delay in full operations was because “the equipment we need to combat this threat is not off-the-shelf equipment.
“We are buying two helicopters, two planes, three vessels that you can almost call a war vessel, but it is not, 19 interceptors, which are fast speed boats with the capacity to go to the delta.
“Part of the problem is that most of the vessels we have can’t go through the creeks because of how shallow the water is. What we are buying can go through the creeks. We have shown the stakeholders and deployment will start in June this year.
“The impact of that deployment we cannot explain because not all the equipment is in place, but we will start in June to see how we can stop these criminals from converting our waters into a theater of war. We think that between June and first quarter of 2020, we would have completed deployment, then you can hold us responsible for any crime that takes place in the water.
“At that point we would have finished training of our personnel, led by the Nigerian Navy, because the equipment will be manned by the navy. The army, police, air force, DSS and NIMASA are also involved in the effort to rid our waters of criminals.”
Updating stakeholders on the progress of work so far under the theme, “Establishment of an Integrated National Security and Waterway Protection Infrastructure in Nigeria – Deep Blue Project,” HLSI said the C4I Systems Operator, Intelligence Systems Operator and Basic Infantry training courses have been successfully conducted and well-trained graduates emerged from those programmes.