â€¢ To save shipping companies $180m annually
The federal government has engaged an Israeli firm to police Nigeriaâ€™s territorial waters for three years and train members of the Nigerian Navy and security personnel after which the Nigerian security agents will take over the security of the nationâ€™s waters.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, stated this on Monday while speaking at the World Maritime Day event with the theme: â€˜Connecting Ships, Ports and Peopleâ€™, held in Lagos.
Ameachi, who did not mention the name of the Israeli firm, disclosed that the development would save shipping companies over $180 million (N55.62 billion) in security fees, adding that Meask alone pays $18 million annually for its ships to be escorted in and out of Nigeria.
According to him, â€œSecurity is a major challenge globally especially in the Gulf of Guinea. There have been major concerns and developments to address the issues of Maritime security along the Gulf of Guinea. Various initiatives, actions, programmes and centres/organisation have been developed and established to counter this insecurity. This administration has seen the need for all relevant maritime agencies to synergise to improve efficiency in our ports.â€
He added that the federal government has recorded some level of success on the concessioning of Onitsha River port, â€œwhile others like Lokoja, Baro, Oguta, River Ports are all in the pipeline and a priority for this administration. The maintenance dredging of Ajaokuta to Onitsha channels of River Niger is a major step to boost the huge potential in our inland waterways transportation.
â€œOn the ever present challenge of vehicular movement in our ports, especially the Apapa/Tincan Island ports, efforts have been made by the federal government to decongest and proffer solution to the ever persistent gridlock limiting the movement of goods and people to these ports. The new policy of the government is that all new rail lines entering the coastal states of the country must be extended to the sea ports to make them more efficient, functional and viable.
â€œAccordingly, the government has extended the Lagos-Ibadan rail link from Ebute Metta to Apapa port complex and is currently rehabilitating the narrow gauge rail line to start evacuating goods from Tincan Island and Apapa ports.
â€œEqually, the coastal rail (Lagos-Calabar) project has extended to Warri port, Onne deep sea port-Port Harcourt and Calabar Port as well as the Export Processing zones in Calabar. This will support the desired efficiency at the ports for loading and offloading of goods at the ports as well as eliminate multiple handling and de-emphasise warehousing at the ports.â€