With Nigeria losing more than $1 billion annually to piracy on the international waters, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) says it is working with sister agencies and security outfits to address the menace.
It also said as part of the agency’s contributions to avert oil theft on the Nigerian waters, it is currently holding discussions with the NNPC to deploy its special mission aircraft to monitor the nation’s pipelines.
The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, disclosed this State House correspondents at the 53rd session of the briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team at the Aso Rock, Abuja.
He noted that since President Buhari launched the Deep Blue Project in June 2021, the incidences had dropped from 34 recorded in 2021 to zero in 2022.
According to him, the personnel to man the special surveillance aircraft are currently undertaking training in Italy.
Jamoh also disclosed that the National Seafarers Development Programme’s (NSDP) teeming cadets cannot be employed because of dearth of local fleets.
“A total of 2,041 cadets have graduated since 2009, while 120 of those admitted withdrew from the programme, 10 of them died in training.
“About 800 of the graduating cadets have secured placements in various maritime establishments globally,’’ he said, adding that the non-disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund has made it difficult for indigenous players to enter into the shipping business meant to absorb the NSDP cadets.
Persecondnews recalls that since 2007, successive Ministers of Transportation and heads of NIMASA had promised to disburse the CVFF to empower indigenous ship owners to acquire vessels but the promises have remained unfulfilled.
The NIMASA boss had promised the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, that the jinx about the non-disbursement of the CVFF would be broken.
“If there is a jinx about the CVFF, I am going to break it by getting it disbursed to deserving Nigerians.
“If these funds are disbursed, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration and the Federal Ministry of Transportation will take credit, while it remains a legacy in your administration,” the Minister had said.
According to the NIMASA DG, efforts to ensure that shipment of goods and services to Nigeria from Europe no longer attract war risk insurance are ongoing.
“There are three basic payment that are extracted from Nigerian shipping companies which include war risk insurance, insurance payment of valuables in the ship and workers insurance.’’
Jamoh said the hree key elements were responsible for high prices in good and service being imported into the country.
On the convictions of pirates, Jamoh disclosed that the agency had secured about 20 convictions in the last one year on poaching, piracy and other crimes in the Gulf of Guinea.
“In all, 20 persons are now serving a total of 119 years behind bars with some being given an option of fine.
“About 17 of the those convicted bagged seven years behind bars each and while three expatriates were also fined.’’