The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has ordered two brand new oceangoing vessels from Singapore to complement its existing fleet comprising of “MV Group of Nine and Customs Pride”” and other crafts to suppress smuggling at sea.
Speaking to newsmen on Monday in Lagos, Customs Area Controller, Western Marine Command, Nigeria Customs Service , Comptroller Odaudu Salefu hinted that the service will soon transport the ships to Nigeria from Singapore as part of efforts to beachcomb the seas against smuggling ,oil theft and other maritime crimes.
According to Salefu the Acting Comptroller General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi recently ordered that the consultant handling repair works on MV Group of Nine and Customs Pride to deliver the boats before end of November 2023
He stated that the vessels are designed for high sea operations and that it would further aid personnel operations at sea.
He added that the boats will fight oil theft and smuggling across the stretch of Lagos down to Igbokoda in Ondo and prevent smuggling of drug, rice and other items along the waterways
The Comptroller further reiterated that the beachcoming unit of customs would also commence training of about forty personnel in various maritime training institutions, mostly Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron ahead of handing over of the refurbished ships that are under renovation by the consultant ; Port Plus Limited.
He maintained that 90% of drugs intercepted at sea by personnel of the Western Marine Command but added that the unit can perform better to up the ante with the new vessels.
Speaking on the moribund seagoing vessels at Marina waterfront, the controller re-echoed that the ships have suffered setbacks since their arrival to Nigerian waters but maintained that Port Plus Limited has swung into actions ahead of November deadline date.
The Comptroller stressed that the CGC has paid high premium for Western Marine Command to thrive as part of efforts curb smuggling activities in the nation’s waterways.
He also explained that aside the refurbishment of the seagoing vessels, the consultant has placed the two ships for dry docking at Niger Dock PLC noting that the service is leaving no stone unturned for the ships to commence operations.
He recalled that the repair works of MV Customs Pride and Group of Nine by the Nigerian Navy was stalled but assured that the ships are to sail as directed by the CGC by November 2023.
The WMC and other area officers will be gathered together for training and retraining while the Acting CGC has sent some officers to Singapore for training and more will be going to other countries for capacity building