…Debunks Presence of Somali Pirates On Nigerian Waters
By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria has accused Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi of playing politics with the controvertial Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) contract which was a maritime security arrangement between the Nigerian Navy and a privately owned company; Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMSL)
The merchant navy association has also faulted the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) over his claims that Somalian pirates are now operating on Nigerian waters, the group described the statement as untrue.
Secretary of the merchant navy group, Capt Alfred Oniye in an exclusive chat with DAILY TREND NEWS said the transport minister knows what to do in order to stop the controvertial contract but that he has failed to do it.
According to him, the OMSL pockets not less than N40billion free money yearly, due to the faulty security arrangements on Nigerian waters.
According to findings by our correspondent, the N47billion yearly revenue is generated from ships making use of the SAA, which were charged $2,500 for the first day and $1,500 every day for the period they stayed at the anchorage area.
Meanwhile, it takes between 28 and 30 days for a vessel to exit the anchorage. That translates to a vessel paying about$46,500.00 for making use of the SAA.
From the NPA’s data on vessel traffic, 1,666 vessels call at the Lagos ports alone quarterly, while a minimum of 55 per cent of the vessels stay at the SAA. This means that an average of 916 ships stay at the anchorage quarterly or 3,665 ships in a year.
Monetarily, this translates that the operators of the SAA, that is OMSL and the Nigerian Navy were collecting an average of $133.28 million (N47.98 billion) annually.
These monies are said not to be remitted to the NPA nor the federal government.
Speaking on the security contract which has been largely criticised by almost all players in the maritime sector, Capt Oniye said “SAA is a political company, i have never seen anywhere in the world where you concession maritime security to a private company, it has never been done anywhere in the world, OMSL is making more than N40billion every year on Nigerian anchorage”
“Amaechi should not come out and tell us that he cannot stop that contract, is he not the Minister of Transportation? Is the Nigerian Navy more powerful than him? Is NPA and NIMASA powerful than him, they are all under transport ministry”
“Amaechi has rights and power to terminate the contract, the contract does not go beyond Amaechi, he know what to do, the maritime sector is still under the ministry of Transportation”
“Where the SAA are securing is not even the jurisdiction of the Navy, the Nigerian Navy are supposed to be at the territorial waters, that is what the law says, so Amaechi has every right to terminate that contract”
“Amaechi should have backed up NPA when they stopped that contract in the first place, what was Amaechi doing when NPA stopped that contract, Amaechi still has the right to tell NIMASA to terminate the arrangement with the Nigerian Navy.
The Minister is just playing politics”
According to the merchant navy officer, many shipping companies were still patronising the secure anchorage area because of poor security arrangement on Nigerian waters, he said there is no shipping company that would want there vessel to be attacked by sea pirates.
He urged the Transportation Minister to provide an alternative security arrangement for shipping companies, if truly he wants to stop the SAA contract which he described as an aberration all over the world.
“This area is the only place they think they can hide their head when they want to drop anchor.
“If the Minister wants to stop the SAA contract, he should provide an alternative, if he gives an alternative, that is when shipping companies will stop patronising secure anchorage area” he said
On the presence of Somali pirates operating on Nigerian waters, Oniye described the statement of the Director General of NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh as a political statement.
“We dont want to believe that story, if the NIMASA DG has a prove that Somalian pirates have begin to infiltrate Nigerian waters, let him come out with the prove”
“What he has said is just a political statement. Even in East Africa that they do not have security on their waters, Somalian pirates didn’t go there to disturb them, not to talk of Gulf of Guinea where we have the Navy and some other forces, Somalian forces have no business in the Gulf of Guinea”
“Before he says this, they must have arrested one or two Somalian pirates and prosecuted them, let him give us a prove that they have arrested Somalian pirates, and the Nigerians that I know, if they arrest any foreigner they would put it on air. I must tell you that security is still at a zero level in the Nigerian maritime sector” he added.