Even as incidences of pirate attacks on Nigeria waters have continued to increase, the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi last Monday announced that the Federal Government has awarded a maritime security contract valued at $195 million to an Israeli firm to procure security equipment and assist in training Nigerian security personnel tackle crime along the nation's waterways.
The minister disclosed this last week at the 2017 World Maritime Day celebration in Lagos. The Minister said the contract which will commence in December this year will last for a period of three years after which the Israeli contractors would handover to Nigerian security personnel. He said the agreement became imperative given the high charges shipping firms pay for security escort on Nigerian waterways.
According to him, due to insecurity on the nation’s waterways, the maritime sector spends $18million on a yearly basis in addition to high war risk insurance payable by shippers to do business on our waters.
“One of the burning issues in the maritime sector is security. The Federal Government has contacted an Israeli firm who is going to train our security men. They will buy equipments and dominate Nigeria’s waterways for the next three years.
“Within those three years, the Israeli firm will train our security operatives for them to take over after the expiration of the contract. They are yet to launch because they are still buying the equipments. When you see the equipments on the waterways, people will know they are safe and secured.
“Mr President has kindly approved that, and that is being done through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). In the three years, they will train our Navy, our Army and our Police so that we can stop spending money escorting boats and vessels on our waterways.
“Currently, Maersk told me they spend between $15m and $18m annually to those escorting their vessels from one point to another on our waterways. We should be able to deflate that by next year so that people can do their businesses on our waterways without any fear of being attacked or harassed.
“The Israelis has assured us that after the training of our security operatives, such harassment and attacks on our waterways will not happen again. They even said we should hold them accountable if such harassment persists on our waterways after the training. That is one achievement that has happened under our leadership in the maritime sector, he said.