The Search and Rescue helicopter of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is presently rotting away and abandoned at the Nigerian Navy Air Station located in Ojo, Lagos.
The NIMASA helicopter which is worth $9million has a carrying capacity for 10 persons, including the pilot and co-pilot was procured to boost Nigeria’s capacity to secure her maritime domain and to fight maritime crimes.
NIMASA has taken the helicopter to the Nigerian Navy for repairs, but the Navy has halted ongoing repairs on the helicopter because fund has stop coming from NIMASA.
This was coming amidst growing concern about the security threat within the country's territorial waters.
It was learnt that repair work have been suspended for over three years following unwillingness on the part of NIMASA to procure necessary equipment for the aircraft repair work to continue.
A source said: "My main concern is that the agency itself will suffer as a consequence of this continuing delaying of the process.
"The worst thing that can happen here is that the service to the nation will suffer as a consequence of all these delays."
Some ship owners who prefer anonymity revealed that the absence of the Augusta AW 139 helicopter accounts, in no small measure for the increasing rate of piracy and kidnappings on Nigeria’s waters.
Since the aircraft developed a major fault about four years ago, the management of NIMASA has failed to deploy any helicopter for aerial surveillance.
If functional, the aircraft is expected to respond to emergencies like pollution control in areas where other modes of transportation would have taken longer time to address as well as performing reconnaissance duties.
Sea robberies in the nation's coastal waters had cost the Federal Government billions of Dollars with the coast of Bayelsa becoming the hottest spot in the Nigerian maritime domain.
The situation had forced local fishermen and fishing trawler companies to reduce their activities in Nigeria.
Recall that the Director, International Maritime Bureau (IMB), Pottengal Mukundan, said the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) and the waters around Nigeria still remain a threat to seafarers.
In 2017, there were 10 incidents of kidnapping involving 65 crewmembers in or around Nigerian waters including seven in the Gulf of Guinea.Efforts to speak with the agency Deputy Director, Public Relations, Isichei Osamgbi proved abortive as his lines were not responding as at the time the calls were made.