- Thee four 35-seater staff ferries during commissioning…Sunday
- FG assures of sustainable maintenance
By Anthony Nwachukwu
To consolidate its recent gains in maritime domain security, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has acquired 14 vessels, comprising five sophisticated patrol boats, five refurbished Search and Rescue/Pollution Control boats and four 35-seater staff ferries.
Also commissioned Sunday in Lagos were the renovated administrative block, multipurpose hall and Search and Rescue Clinic at the Nigerian Maritime Resource Development Centre, the NIMASA Search and Rescue Base Clinic, communication gadgets, as well as the groundbreaking of the NIMASA Skills Acquisition Centre.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, assured of their sustainable maintenance, stating that their launch showed NIMASA’s relentless commitment to delivering good governance and structures that will engender economic renaissance.
The projects “are directly tied to the mission of NIMASA, which is to achieve and sustain safe, secure shipping, cleaner oceans and enhanced maritime capacity in line with the best global practices, towards Nigeria’s economic development,” Sambo said.
He explained that the five state-of-the-art enforcement platforms (patrol vessels) will ensure strict compliance and adherence with the extant laws governing the operations of the nation’s maritime domain.
They will give NIMASA “the much-needed tools required to function as a maritime administration, in line with the protocols and conventions of the International Maritime Organisation and International Labour Organisation, at which NIMASA represents Nigeria as its contracting government,” Sambo explained.
He added that the four staff ferries “were acquired to increase the overall efficiency and productivity of the staff by creating a more conducive means of transportation to and from official assignments, thereby by-passing the hassles associated with the operational terrain of the ports.”
According to him, the completion of the projects shows NIMASA’s commitment to ensuring the safety and security of Nigerian waters, with the Search and Rescue Clinics enabling it to fulfil its obligations to seafarers and the general public with the top-notch medical facilities.
Similarly, the newly acquired communication gadgets will enable the agency’s enforcement and search and rescue operators communicate real-time without any hindrance or interference during operations at sea.
In his welcome address earlier, the NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, attributed the agency’s successes partly to “persistency” since the past four years in the fight against maritime crime and insecurity and efforts towards a safe maritime ecosystem.
“We have from the very beginning of our administration reckoned that attaining a blue economy is pivotal to the growth and development of the nation,” Jamoh noted.
“It was equally important that while we had our vision set on achieving something great, we simultaneously took cognisance of the damaging impact that piracy, kidnapping of seafarers, smuggling, illegal oil bunkering, robbery at sea and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing have had on our maritime profile.
“The Gulf of Guinea, which Nigeria is a major stakeholder in, was notorious for piracy attacks and used to be referred to as the ‘world’s hotspot’ for piracy. The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2634, which called for a crackdown on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
“By 2022, cases of piracy and other maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea had significantly reduced as only about three cases of piracy were recorded, with none attributable to Nigeria.
“The International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center (IMB PRC) regarded this as a positive trend. This equally meant that 2022 was a successful year for Nigeria in the fight against piracy and other maritime crimes.
“The success of 2022 can only be credited to the tremendous efforts of the Federal Government in terms of provision of infrastructures, which is best enveloped as the Deep Blue Project – a $195 million investment towards vessels, maritime domain awareness platforms, and land, air and sea assets.
The land assets comprise the Command, Control, Computer, Communication, and Intelligence (C4i) Centre for domain awareness and intelligence gathering, 16 armored vehicles for coastal patrol, and a 600-strong Maritime Security Unit specially trained for interdiction.
The air assets comprise two Special Mission Aircraft (SMA) for surveillance of the EEZ, three Special Mission Helicopters (SMHs) for search and rescue, and four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), while the sea assets comprise two Special Mission Vessels (SMVs) and 17 Fast Interceptor Boats (FIBs).
He explained that beyond overcoming maritime crime at the GoG, NIMASA was committed to ensuring safe waterways for local transportation and leisure activities to enable more internal revenue generation, while also keeping the inland waterways navigable and free of waste and pollutants.
The quest for persistency in order to remain successful, therefore, led to the infrastructures being launched.
According to Jamoh, “the Search and Rescue clinic has become quite important as seafarers who experience attack need emergency medical attention and we have to be prompt so as to ensure their safety and survival.
“The Search and Rescue Clinic is manned by specially-skilled medical personnel and same gives us the confidence with regards to guaranteeing the survival.
“The administrative building, on the other hand, is built with intent to improve service delivery for efficient shipping activities, particularly as NIMASA is targeting an improved ship registry.
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