MARITIME SECURITY: Deep Blue Project Should Transmute Into Coastguard Bill, Stakeholders tell NASS

By DAPO OLAWUNI

Even as the bill for the establishment of the Nigerian Merchant Navy Coast Guard Security and Safety Corps (NMNCGSSC) is reported to have passed through its second reading at the National Assembly on Wednesday 30th June 2021, stakeholders have called on government consider transforming the Deep Blue Project into Coast Guard for domestic maritme security.

The stakeholders expressed belief that the deep blue assets currently under the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) should be transferred and managed by the Coast guard.

The Coast Guard Bill, which is being sponsored by Hon. Tajudeen Adefisoye has continuously tear maritime stakeholders apart in opinions.

Sponsor of the bill believes that when passed into an Act, the Coast Guard Security and Safety Corps would provide jobs for seafarers and support the security function of the Nigerian navy to tackle all manners of criminal maritime activities.

In a recent online reaction expressed to our correspondent, a Naval Achitec and ship surveyor, Mr Green Ekeledo stated that the deep blue project would work better with the passage of the Coastguard Bill.

Ekeledo who is a member of Association of Nigerian Seafarers said “In my opinion Deep Blue Project which in simple terms is Domestic maritme security will be more effective with the establishment of a coastguard for sustainability and effective enforcement”

“Most maritime nations have both regular National Navy and Coastguard which deals on domestic maritme security. With the assets of Deep blue project the coastguard can effectively take off with the NASS passage of the bill, it is not rocket science”

“For Deep Blue project to be sustainable Nimasa should transform it to Nigeria coastguard as a domestic maritme security especially in the GOG to fight piracy”

“Coastguard bill is now for third reading and soon for public hearing..all mariners should support the establishment of a coastguard” he said

Also expressing opinion on this, a ship captain, Capt Segun Akanbi said that Nigeria, a country with over 850km of Coastline, with so much maritime activities and offshore operations needs a dedicated Coastal Security.

Capt Akanbi argued that “NIMASA’s hands are full, they have so much to worry about, having a dedicated coast guard is not in anyway conflicting with NIMASA responsibilities or the Naval Admiralty, rather it would be a complementary organization whose overall responsibilities would be Maritime Security and Environmental protection”

Meanwhile, the major seafarers Union in Nigeria; Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transporters Senior Staff Association (NMNOWTSSA) have since dissociated itself from the Coast Guard Bill.

In a recent chat with newsmen in Lagos, it’s National Secretary, Comrade John Okpono said the association is less concerned about the coastguard bill.

“As at today, we have two bodies recognised by the trade union Act; the Maritime Workers Union, and the Nigerian Merchant Navy. The last time this issue came up at National Assembly, we had a unified position.

“We are called seafarers, we are not security outfit, therefore my association is not concerned whether or not the bill is passed into law. This is because security falls under the defense Navy.

“This coastguard bill is a private affair coming from individuals to secure who? Is there any of the promoters who have bothered to find out how seafarers are faring in face of insecurity?

“Except the Act establishing the Merchant Navy is repealed, we do not have any threats from anywhere, this is because no association or organisation can collect a dime as check-off dues as far as seafaring is concerned, it is meant for Merchant Navy and Maritime Workers Union

“We don’t know who sponsored the bill, so we don’t have any position as far as the bill is concerned” Okpono stated.

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