Nigeria Loses $6bn Freight Cost Yearly to Maritime Piracy

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Eromosele Abiodun

The federal government is losing $6 billion on freight cost yearly to piracy in Nigerian waters, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, has disclosed.

Speaking in Lagos yesterday during the 2018 World Maritime Day celebration, Mustapha disclosed that the federal government plans to invest in maritime security and local capacity development to reduce maritime piracy in Nigerian waters so as to get a sizeable chunk of the N$6 billion (N2.16 trillion) of the annual freight cost for the country would be retained in the Nigerian economy.

Mustapha noted that despite the achievements recorded in the maritime industry, the country has come under siege by criminal elements who perpetuates acts of piracy, arms proliferation, crude oil theft, as well as illegal and unregulated fishing in the Gulf of Guinea and within Nigeria’s territorial waters.

Represented by the Minister of State for Works, Power and Housing, Baba Sheri stressed that the gains recorded by the government via port concessioning, amnesty, dredging nosedived due to this unfortunate scenario, thus compelling foreign shipping companies to request for the federal government’s approval to enter Nigeria’s waters with armed security personnel onboard.

Stressing the importance of the maritime industry to the economy, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said shippers spends between $5 billion and $6 billion annually on freight cost, while the maritime component of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry is worth an estimated $8 billion alongside seabome transportation, oceanic extractive resource exploitation and export processing zones.

According to him, “It is worthy to note that for effective contribution of shipping activities to the development of Nigeria’s economy, there is urgent need to curb and combat these illegal maritime activities in our waters as these crimes continue to constitute impediments to economic development.

“As long as these crimes continue to pose danger to the Gulf of Guinea and our maritime domain, the benefits of the theme of this year’s World Maritime Day celebration will continue to be elusive.

“The Federal Executive Council (FEC) recently approved the procurement of new security architecture for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), which involves the acquisition of new platforms and other logistics required to enable the agency to perform its statutory functions of securing the Nigerian waters in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy.”

“The importance of ensuring a safe maritime domain cannot be overemphasized. A safe, secure and efficient shipping industry will surely revitalize and diversify the economy of Nigeria away from crude oil exploration to a maritime hub. Therefore, the promotion of sustainable shipping and sustainable maritime development as expressed in the theme of this year’s celebration will stimulate the development of new technologies and innovation, agile maritime security platforms and the development of the maritime infrastructure,” the minister explained.

He added that Nigeria as a member-state of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), a specialised United Nations (UN) Agency, is responsible for ensuring safety and security of shipping and protection of the marine environment.

“Initially, the IMO was restricted to safety related issues, but over the years, its mandate expanded to environmental considerations, legal matters, technical cooperation, maritime security and many other issues affecting the overall efficiency and effectiveness of shipping. Among the most recent achievements of the IMO is the adoption of the Initial Strategy on the reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions from ships, which is a policy commitment targeted at completely phasing out the Greenhouse Gas emissions from ships in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“Furthermore, the global sulphur limit, referred to as ”IMO 2020” specifies a reduction in the sulphur content of fuel oil used by ships. As a means of ensuring sustainable use of maritime resources for future purposes, the IMO encourages member states to ratify and domesticate legal instruments for uniform implementation and enforcements of its regulations and laws, “he said.

In her goodwill message Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman said the NPA iscommitted to exploring all opportunities, including collaborations with sister agencies, international organisations and private sector participants towards leaving the Nigerian maritime better and sustainably more efficient than we met it. It is a commitment that I hope we can all commit ourselves.