Government to spend N10 billion on shipwreck removal
For smooth sailing of vessels on Nigerian waterways, the Federal Government has unveiled plans to expend about N10 billion to remove shipwrecks from the territorial waters.
The Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh, while addressing a press conference to mark his 100 days in office, assured that the government is ready to clear the wrecks, and prosecute anyone engaged in illegal scrapping of vessels.
He said: “It is illegal for anyone to pick wrecks from the waterways. It is a national asset, and we would no longer condone it. We will descend on these people and every dime must go back to government coffers. So, if we identify any wreck, we would evaluate it and sell it to reduce the cost of removing others. We are thinking of spending over N10 billion to remove all the wrecks across our territorial waters,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jamoh said NIMASA is working vigorously with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), to put its N50 billion floating dock into operations soon.He said: “The floating dock would be moved to the continental shipyard any moment from now,” adding that NIMASA has sought the cooperation of oil firms to patronise the facility in fulfilment of the local content agenda.
He said: “Already we are having a Memorandum of Understanding with oil firms doing business with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), to maintain their vessels at the floating dock.
“It is going to be a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement. When it becomes fully operational, revenue will be about N1 billion per month with about 350 employment opportunities on the floating dock.”
Jamoh said the facility would also be positioned to enable graduates from the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, to spend their sea time.On strengthening local participation in the sector, he said NIMASA is working hard to make ship financing accessible to all, adding that the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) would be disbursed before October this year.
He said the management is vigorously pursuing its set agenda, tagged; “3s” – Security, Safety and Shipping Development, while reiterating his commitment to tackling piracy on Nigerian waters with the aid of the deep blue project.
He added that the agency has strengthened relationships among actors like the Nigerian Navy, Police, and others, which has led to the arrest of 27 sea pirates in the last three months.
“This sends a strong signal that Nigeria is no longer sleeping on tackling piracy. This is the first time the nation is having 27 alleged criminals in custody. We have the Anti-piracy law in place, as signed by President Muhamadu Buhari in 2010. We are setting up a guideline that will make the judiciary facilitate prosecution of alleged pirates,” he said.
He continued: “We have achieved over 85% of deep blue projects. The platforms we are proposing are two special mission vessels. They are in Nigeria, and we have cleared them. There are 17 special mission aircraft and two special mission helicopters, which are expected to come into Nigeria (January 2021). Our C4i is already in operation in Nigeria, and we have 17 armoured vehicles in the quest to fight piracy.”
He said COVID-19 pandemic delayed the deployment of full mercenaries for the deep blue project, even as travel restriction delayed staff training, adding that the assets would be deployed concurrently to ensure that Nigeria gets out of the insecurity mess.