The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo commissioned five fully bulletproof patrol boats, five refurbished boats, search and rescue clinic, four 35-seater boats, as well as an admistrative building of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in Lagos.
The minister stated that the commissioned projects shows relentless commitment to the delivery of good governance through deliberate and concentrated efforts at institutionalising policies and structures that will lead to Nigeria’s economic renaissance.
Sambo added that this will also help NIMASA achieve and sustain safe, secure shipping, cleaner oceans and enhanced maritime capacity in line with the best global practices towards Nigeria’s economic development.
He said: “These platforms 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 Organization and International Labour Organization to which NIMASA represents Nigeria as its contracting government.
“The completion of the just mentioned projects by NIMASA shows the agency’s commitment to ensuring the safety and security of Nigerian waters.
“As the supervisory Ministry, we will continue to give our support to NIMASA as she continues down this commendable path to ensuring the growth of maritime in Nigeria”.
On his part, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh said that the new assets and building is an exhibition of the fact that the Federal Government (FG) is persistent in the fight against maritime crime, while strengthening Nigeria’s Blue Economy.
Jamoh explained that beyond overcoming maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG), the management and safety of Nigeria’s inland waterways equally deserves attention.
According to him, NIMASA is committed to ensuring the waterways are safe for local transportation and other leisure activities, so that more internal revenues are generated.
His words: “It is important to keep the inland waterways free of waste and pollutants so as to ensure they remain navigable in addition to keeping them secured from perpetrators of maritime crime.
“Notwithstanding the foregoing giant strides and the current state of security, the golden rule is that one must be persistent to remain successful. It is within the bearing of this frame of mind that we hinge the significance of today’s launching.
“The inclusion of the Security/Patrol boats along with the Search and Rescue/Pollution control boats to the Deep Blue Project assets are particularly with intent to intensify the internal security of the waterways with the inclusion of the Pollution control boats taking into cognizance the recent proliferation of oil theft.
“The Search and Rescue clinic has also become quite important as cases of 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 survival.
“The administrative building on the other hand is built with intent to improve the service delivery of NIMASA for efficient shipping activities particularly as NIMASA is targeting an improved ship registry”.
The NIMASA boss noted earlier that from the very beginning, his administration has reckoned that attaining a Blue Economy is pivotal to the growth and development of the nation.
Jamoh pointed out that the year 2022 was a successful year for Nigeria in the fight against piracy and other maritime crime and should be regarded as a milestone for the Buhari-led administration.
He said: “It was equally important that while we had our vision set on achieving something great, we simultaneously took cognizance of the damaging impact that piracy, kidnapping of seafarers, smuggling, illegal oil bunkering, robbery at sea and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing has had on our maritime profile.
“The Gulf of Guinea which Nigeria is a major stakeholder was notorious for piratical 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 the year 2022, cases of piracy and other maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea had significantly reduced as only about 3 cases of piracy were recorded while none of the cases was attributable to Nigeria. The International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center (IMB PRC) regarded this as a positive trend”.
Jamoh attributed the success of 2022 to the tremendous effort of the FG in terms of provision of infrastructures which is best enveloped as the Deep Blue Project.
The Deep Blue project is a $195 million investment towards vessels, Maritime Domain Awareness platforms, and land and air and sea assets.
The land assets comprises 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 comprises 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 comprises two Special Mission Vessels (SMVs) and 17 Fast Interceptor Boats (FIBs).
The Deep Blue Project which has tremendously boosted the rate of safety of the waterways was an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Federal Ministry of Defense, implemented by NIMASA, with personnel drawn from the Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police, Department of State Services, and other security agencies.
According to the NIMASA DG, the Deep Blue Project is the most significant commitment by any GoG country to date, stating that the impact is crystal clear for all to see.
“Please let it be known that the success recorded in the fight against maritime insecurity in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea is a success of all of us as a team. I congratulate you all because due to our persistency, we are not defeated and I heartily say thank you once again.
“As we launch these new assets, I urge all the officers that will be assigned to utilize them to bear in mind that they are national assets and are to make the best use of them while bearing in mind the need for proper maintenance”, he added.