Barring any unforeseen development, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is expected to flag-off the deployment of its newly-acquired maritime security assets this week.
According to the Director General of NIMASA; Dr Bashir Jamoh, the deployment marks the beginning of a massive security upgrade on Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea through the launch of the deep blue project.
He said the project focuses on the security of the Gulf of Guinea, which has become the world’s piracy hotspot.
After taking delivery of the last of the assets last week, he said: “The land assets comprise the Command, Control, Communication, Computer, and Intelligence Centre for intelligence gathering and data collection; 16 armoured vehicles for coastal patrol; and about 600 specially trained troops for interdiction, known as Maritime Security Unit.
“On air, there are two Special Mission Aircrafts for surveillance of the EEZ, one of which was received on May 12 with the second expected to arrive May 18; three Special Mission Helicopters for search and rescue; and four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
“The sea assets consist of two Special Mission Vessels and 17 Fast Interceptor Boats,” he said.
Jamoh also added that, the platforms are not restricted to fighting piracy and maritime crimes, they will also be to also tackle pipeline vandalism, oil theft, illegal refinery, smuggling, detection and prevention of illegal arms importation, illegal fishing, as well as pollution.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre had said the Gulf of Guinea remains the world’s piracy hotspot.
But, the NIMASA DG said, once deployed, the assets would further improve security in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea.
He said there had been a drastic reduction in the rate of attacks in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with the deployment of the Deep Blue Project assets.
According to him, the goal was to eliminate entirely such incidents.
He noted that there was a drastic decrease in the rate of security breaches in our waters in recent times.
“This is a clear indication that we are getting it right with the Deep Blue Project.
“The figures we are getting from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) are encouraging. We ultimately aim to completely eradicate security hindrances to shipping and business generally in the Nigerian maritime domain.
“The latest IMB quarterly report of piracy and armed robbery against ships recorded only two incidents in Nigerian waters between January and March this year, compared to 11 attacks within the same period last year.
“These figures are a proof that we can make our waters safe and secure, and we are determined to do so”, he stressed.