THE Federal Government will begin the deployment of anti-piracy equipment in the nation’s Maritime sector by June 2019.
Disclosing this on Tuesday in Lagos during a stakeholders meeting tagged ‘Regulating The Maritime Industry For a Better Nigeria’, the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi revealed that the situation as regards insecurity in the nation’s maritime sector is very bad as of now.
According to Amaechi, who later handed over the reins of the Ministry to the Permanent Secretary of The Ministry Of Transportation, “What Government has done was to apologise to stakeholders and assure them of better security.
“The situation is very bad now in terms of insecurity in the maritime industry and the Federal Government is aware of it.
“But what we threw to the stakeholders is that the equipment we need to combat insecurity in the maritime industry is not off-the-shelf equipment.
“We are buying helicopters, three vessels, nineteen interceptors and they have the capacity to get to the Niger Delta because part of the problems we had initially was that most of the vessels can’t get to the East because of how shallow the water is. The deployment will start in June.
“In June, we will see how we can combat these criminals who are turning our maritime domain into a theatre of war.”
He also assured that complete deployment will be done between June 2019 and 1st quarter of 2020.
“We think that between June and 1st quarter of 2020, we would have completed deployment of all these equipment. Then, Nigerians can hold us responsible for any crime on our waters after then.
“This equipment will be manned mostly by the Navy but all other security agencies will be involved,” the former Minister of Transportation added.
Representatives of HLSI Limited, the firm handling the maritime security project, proceeded to give a detailed presentation, under the theme, ‘Establishment of an Integrated National Security and Waterway Protection Infrastructure in Nigeria – Deep Blue Project’ in which the company reviewed the progress recorded in both the areas of procurement of maritime security assets as well as the human capacity aspect involving training courses.
To date, C4I Systems Operator, Intelligence Systems Operator and Basic Infantry training courses have been successfully conducted with well-trained graduates emerging from those programmes while a timetable for the delivery of maritime security assets was laid out in the course of the presentation.
An overview of the Deep Blue Project reveals the system as providing a 360 degree, eagle eye view of Nigeria’s maritime domain thereby equipping NIMASA (as the Designated Authority) with comprehensive and real-time information on every activity conducted by Vessels within Nigerian waters.