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Mixed reactions trail NPA’s plan to end Anchorage contract

Mixed reactions have trailed the plan by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to dismantle the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA), which provides security to ships coming…

Mixed reactions have trailed the plan by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to dismantle the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA), which provides security to ships coming to Apapa and Tin Can Island ports in Lagos.

While NPA said the SAA is leading to increase in cost of shipping coming into the country, some concerned shipping and ports services users said the SAA operated by Ocean Marine Services (OMS) Limited, is saving the nation about $225,000 on journeys to Lagos ports.

NPA had last week notified the Nigerian Navy of its decision to dismantle the SAA, operated on behalf of the Navy by the private company.

It insisted that the security of the country’s waterways was the statutory responsibility of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Marine Police, and Nigerian Navy, which must all ensure safe and secured Nigeria territorial waters.

However, the national president of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Uche Increase told journalists that contrary to claims of high cost of the SAA, it is helping multinational shipping lines to save $225,000 on journey to Lagos ports.

Uche said they were baffled that the NPA, which was part of a tripartite committee on maritime security that created the SAA in 2014, now plans to dismantle the facility, where ships coming to Lagos ports are well secured.

“If we do not add our voice to clarify the facts at this point, the government may be misled and the country will be worse off as far as maritime security is concerned. We do not want this SAA to be disrupted so as not to expose our cargoes to the risk due to hijacking of ships and kidnapping of crew,” he noted.

He said SAA was created through a steering committee set up in 2013, by the Nigerian Navy, NPA, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and other agencies of government.

He insisted that maintaining the SAA was a far cheaper and safe way to manage security for ships coming into the country as the vessels used to carry mercenaries onboard to provide the security when coming to Nigeria at a very exorbitant cost.

He explained, “One of such mercenaries would cost $2,500 and a ship would carry three for a period not less than 30 days. That costs as much as $225,000 and even more, when the mercenaries have to be onboard for more than a month.”

It was also learnt that the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, had directed the NPA to write a letter to the Chief of Naval Staff to request that the Navy stopped the operation of the facility. The NPA, in the letter, stated that the revenue generated from the operation at a charge of $1,500 per vessel per day from 2014 to date was neither remitted to it nor the federal government.

NPA argued that the patrol boat, NNS Dorina P101, as mother vessel, and the interceptor vessels, NNS Agede P258 and NNS Torie P259, were all purchased by it for the Nigerian Navy to patrol the anchorage and not to be designated for use at a facility that has no relationship with it.

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