‘Saboteurs stall $195m maritime security contract’
The Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has alleged that some saboteurs are frustrating moves by the Federal Government to protect Nigerian waters through the $195 million (about N70.2 billion) contract signed a year ago. Amaechi had in May last year announced that President Mohammadu Buhari had consented to the contract and approved the funds to procure security equipment to combat sea crime.
The fund is meant to acquire three helicopters, three aircrafts, three big battle-ready ships, 12 vessels and 20 amphibious cars to combat the menace of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. The contract had been approved to an Israeli security firm, but it has rather become a mirage.
Amaechi, who spoke at the maritime stakeholders’ interactive forum organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in Warri, Delta State, yesterday, alleged that some government officials, and “people making money from water” are sabotaging government’s effort in restoring peace on the nation’s troubled waters.
He said: “For ship owners, you need to do a petition to the president, you need to behave like an activist. The president approved a contract of $195million and there are people in the system sabotaging that contract. The contract is to restore security in the nation’s waters.”He threatened to disclose the names of those behind the sabotage if pushed to the wall.
“I won’t say who they are until it gets out of control. We are still battling for the contract to take place, but if it gets out of hand, we will name them, including the security people.
“These are people who make billions of dollars from the waters so they don’t want security on the waters, because if we secure the waters, all this rubbish will go. We need to ask ourselves what happened to an approval that was given about two years ago by the president.’’
Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, commended the state on the relative peace at the Eastern Ports and pledged to continue to build confidence and maintain partnership with the host communities.She also promised to continue to partner and consult with stakeholders in the quest to develop the shipping sector.
Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, said the stakeholders should collaborate to drive growth in the sector and key into the national goal of employment generation.Bello also emphasised that there should be concerted efforts to increase the contributions of maritime sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.
Speaking on the theme: “Ease of doing business in a secured maritime environment”, Chairman, Ship owners Forum, Mrs. Margaret Onyema- Orakwusi, urged the Federal Government to improve security in the nation’s territorial water to restore investors’ confidence in the sector.
Orakwusi also charged the government oversee the establishment of maritime bank for the resuscitation of shipping business in Nigeria, adding that a maritime bank with single interest rate would help develop the sector.