By DAPO OLAWUNI
In order to ensure their safety while navigating into Nigerian territorial waters, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Navy have collaborated on the establishment of a Trade Transit Corridor (TT ) for vessels calling on Nigerian waters.
Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh disclosed at a recent press briefing in Lagos that the proposal had come in from the international community in January 2020 for the creation of the TTC which is a dedicated and secured passage for international vessels calling at Nigerian ports.
He said the federal government is making serious efforts to bridge the existing maritime security gaps by getting rid of the crimes that has made the international community describe Nigeria as the most dangerous place to trade in terms of shipping, thereby collecting war risk insurance premiums which every Nigerian is paying.
Jamoh said the TTC proposal has been submitted to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ettte Ibas.
He revealed that so far, an implementation committee has been established by the Navy to look into workability of the TTC, and that three zones have been created for vessels calling at the port, so that they would no longer be attacked by pirates and sea robbers.
According him, the Central Zone is Warri axis, Eastern Zone is Port Harcourt axis and Western Zone is Lagos axis.
According to the NIMASA boss “There is a proposal from the international community, they want us to create Trade Transit Corridor which means that we would create one path way entering Nigerian territorial waters or going out of the territorial waters, and then deploy all our assets, resources and guards, human and capital”
“If the ship is coming from anywhere in the world, we would be the one to guide you on the route to follow, this route into Nigerian waters would now be fully protected by personnel of Nigerian Navy and other security arms”
“When they brought this idea, it was in January this year, it was discussed with the Honorable minister for transportation and minister of State for transport in turn to discuss with the Nigerian Navy, myself and the minister of transportation would discuss same with the chief of naval staff”
“The chief of Naval staff made mention that he has already inaugurated a committee to look into this proposal to see how it would work”
“In the time being, he has created three zones in terms of secured waterways that can be used by vessels; the Central Zone which is Warri axis, Eastern Zone which is Port Harcourt axis and Western Zone which is Lagos axis.
So this is how we are going to conserve our energies on the navigational areas” he said
Dr Jamoh lamented that the insecurities on Nigerian territorial waters has caused Nigerian importers and shippers to pay war risk insurance premiums on cargoes.
“Since we are an import dependent country, whatever we import would be put in a ship, and if you put it in a ship, you have to pay, and when you pay, you are paying war premium.
The last report of the IMB still shows that Nigeria is the highest in terms of maritime criminality on the waterways” he said