The minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi has disclosed that a maritime security contract valued at $195 million has been awarded to an Israeli firm.
The contract, according to the minister, is to procure security equipment and assist in training Nigerian security personnel tackle crime along the nation’s waterways.
Amaechi who disclosed this at an event to mark the 2017 World Maritime Day stated that the Nigerian maritime domain currently faces security challenges, as more case of attack and kidnappings have been recorded this year.
According to him, “The Israelis have assured us that after the training of our security operatives, such harassment and attacks on our waterways will not happen again. They even said we should hold them accountable if such harassment persists on our waterways after the training. That is one achievement that has happened under our leadership in the maritime sector”.
Although the name of the firm was not disclosed, the minister said that the agreement was made to put an end to the high charges shipping firms’ pay for security escort on Nigerian waterways. According to him, an operator spends about $18 million on a yearly basis due to insecurity on the nation’s waterways.
His words: “One of the burning issues in the maritime sector is security. The Federal Government has contacted an Israeli firm who is going to train our security men. They will buy equipment and dominate Nigeria’s waterways for the next three years.
“Mr. President has kindly approved that, and that is being done through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). In the three years, they will train our Navy, our Army and our Police so that we can stop spending money escorting boats and vessels on our waterways.
“Currently, Maersk told me they spend between $15m and $18m annually to those escorting their vessels from one point to another on our waterways. We should be able to deflate that by next year so that people can do their businesses on our waterways without any fear of being attacked or harassed”.
He added that the contract which will commence in December will last for a period of three years after which the company will handover to Nigerian security personnel.
He also disclosed that efforts have been made to commence the movement of cargoes by rail, adding that the government will acquire six locomotives and 100 wagons before the end of December.
“We are launching six locomotives before December. Initially, General Electric said they will pick the cargoes from the ports to Ebute-Metta, but I told them that such movement of cargoes to Ebute-Metta will not work.
“By next week, I will inform General Electric that all cargoes would be moved from the ports, straight to Papalanto in Ogun State. This will start before the end of December. We are doing that with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), he said.