EU calls on Nigeria to tighten security at seaports
The European Union (EU) has advised Nigeria to tighten security architecture at the seaports to help reduce its vulnerabilities and risks. The call was made at the closing ceremony of the Western and Central Africa Port Security (WeCAPS) first mission training in Nigeria for ports in Lagos.
The mission, which started in August 2022, was sponsored by EU and driven by Expertise France (EF) with the collaboration of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The team leader of WeCAPS, Nico Vertogen, said strengthening the security and safety of the West and Central African ports would help reduce vulnerabilities and risks, thereby increasing skills and vigilance.
Vertogen called for perimeter fencing of the ports, installation of CCTVs and access badges among others as a means to tighten the nation’s port security.
He explained that the WeCAPS project is a partner project with expertise giving their opinion on safety and security accompanied by training.
The Managing Director, NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, commended the EU for the WeCAPS training mission to strengthen security and safety of ports in the West and Central African region. He said the training mission in Nigeria came at a time when the authority is prioritising safety and security to achieve a hub status within the region.
This commitment, Bello-Koko said is in line with the authority’s vision to be the maritime logistics hub for sustainable port services in Africa, which also prioritises the delivery of efficient port services in a safe, secure and customer-friendly environment.
Also speaking, the General Manager, Security, NPA, Mohammed Khalil, said ports are part of a nation’s critical national infrastructure and assets. He said the ports are also gateways to the nation’s economy as they serve as transportation hubs connecting and facilitating movement of goods to support businesses for wealth creation and economic growth.
Khalil noted that, as an integral part of the global maritime logistics and supply chain, which controls over 80 per cent of world trade, the safety and security of the ports are of paramount importance to the wellbeing of the global economy. He said the safety and security of ports became a priority after the 9/11 attack by acts of terrorism in the United States and its aftermath that brought huge changes in global maritime and port security management.
Khalil said due to the impact of attack at the global level, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) reviewed the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) (1974) that gave rise to the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.
According to him, the convention, which came to effect in July 2004, was to nip in the bud, the global threat of terrorism on international shipping and related supply chain infrastructure. He said Nigeria, being a signatory to the convention, has over the years worked tirelessly to ensure compliance with the code through the collaborative training with WeCAPs.
Speaking on the training by WeCAPS, Khalil said over 150 officers and staff of maritime agencies have been trained and have acquired sufficient professional knowledge and skills in various areas of needs and competencies. He said this cuts across security, fire, safety, environment, operations, harbours, legal, training and public-private partnership (PPP).
Khalil said the training was built around a detailed assessment report of ports in the Lagos Maritime Security Zone (LMSZ), which was conducted in April 2022, to strengthen the capacity of human capital in various areas of port operations, particularly in the areas of port security, safety and fire service.
Also speaking, the Head of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Unit, NIMASA, Mudi Isa, commended EU for its immense commitment to port safety and security within the shores of Nigeria and Africa.
He said despite the maritime security threats the world is confronted with today, taking the right actions and putting appropriate measures in place will ensure a safe and secure maritime environment, which is the bedrock for a thriving industry.
Isa said the maritime industry plays a fundamental role in boosting global trade and economic prosperity. He said the industry is a closely-knit community that security threats can migrate from a vulnerable port in one country to a seemingly less vulnerable one in another country using ships as a ‘conduit’ for this migration.
Isa noted that with the dynamic nature of maritime security threats, there is a need to take deliberate steps to ensure sustainability of achievements and reduction in port vulnerability to emerging threats through collaborations.