Barge operators seek collaboration on inland waterways security
Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN) has called for a collaboration of agencies to secure the inland waterways from attacks on cargoes. This comes as the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, expressed concern that the inland waterways have not been captured in security architecture.
Jamoh is concerned that despite the well-rounded tranquility of Nigerian waters and the entire Gulf of Guinea (GoG), threats may spring up on brown waters.
He said although NIMASA’s role is on blue waters, it would be important to synergise with the Marine Police, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and other agencies to prioritise activities on creeks and inland waters where big shipping crimes are hatched.
Speaking with The Guardian, President of BOAN, Olubunmi Olumekun, said security of the inland waterways is a collective responsibility, adding that all agencies and stakeholders must work together and not separately, which is where it is lacking.
He commended NIMASA for achieving 60 per cent security on the waterways, noting that at the beginning of barge operations in the country, there were lots of attacks on the barges, drivers and cargoes.
Olumekun said though barge operators can now move cargoes from Lagos to Warri and Onitsha without encountering attacks unlike before when they find themselves in the net of kidnappers or bad elements on the waters.
“We can’t be fighting enemies outside and leave our home front. We are pursuing pirates on the high sea because the inland waterways are open. NIMASA and other agencies have to pursue the two together.
“These pirates are Nigerians, when you pursue them from the high sea, they will come back home to operate. That is why you see some barges are being attacked. People burgle our goods on our creeks on their way to their destinations. A lot of times they just jump in with guns and start to hold us hostage and remove some of the goods,” he said.