BY YUSUF BABALOLA, Lagos
Few day after President Muhammadu Buhari cancelled the controversial Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) contract handled by Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMSL), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) has taken over the security of the anchorage.
The OMSL contract in partnership with the Nigerian Navy, has been providing security services to foreign ships calling at the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports in Lagos at $2,000 per day at a designated area in the water called the Secured Anchorage Area, became controversial when the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, in February last year announced its cancellation.
Recall that the ministry of transportation had secured $198million approval from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to introduce a maritime security architecture called Deep Blue Project (DBP).
The DBP will oversee all maritime security matters in Nigeria and all anchorages in Nigeria will now fall under the DBP’s jurisdiction, including the Secure Anchorage Area. This is designed to reduce the need for private security in Nigerian waters, which increases the cost of shipping for goods imported into the country
However, in an update by Dryad Maritime, NIMASA will deploy two of its intervention vessels at the anchorage to secure vessels set to call at Nigerian port.
According to the statement made available to LEADERSHIP, Dryad said NIMASA will deploy DB LAGOS and DB ABUJA with 8 Fast Interceptor attack boats to Lagos anchorage within this week to kickstart the project.
Tbe statement reads, “NIMASA is now set to deploy security assets to provide security for the Lagos SAA. NIMASA will deploy DB LAGOS and DB ABUJA with 8 Fast Interceptor attack boats to Lagos anchorage within this week to kickstart the project.”
“NIMASA will share with stakeholders the mode of operations, reporting detail for vessels entering the SAA and if any charges will be applicable to sustain the project,” the report said.
Meanwhile, the secretary-general, International Maritime Organization (IMO), Kitack Lim, has expressed deep concern about the escalation in the number and severity of attacks on ships and crew in the Gulf of Guinea region.
He insisted on the need for all stakeholders to work together to restore security and reduce the threats to the safety and security of crews and vessels operating in the region.
The urgency of the situation has been underlined by the attack on the container ship Mozart on 23 January 2021, which resulted in a fatality and the kidnapping of 15 seafarers.
In a circular letter (No. 4382, issued 10 February), the Secretary-General said that IMO has been taking action to enhance the coordination of initiatives among stakeholders, including facilitating meetings with representatives of the industry, the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Interregional Coordination Centre for the Implementation of Regional Strategy for Maritime Safety and Security in Central and West Africa (ICC).